Timeline of the Channon Christian-Christopher Newsom murders
The brutal killings of a young Knoxville couple garnered national attention in 2007. More than 10 years after the deaths of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom, the last suspect in the case is going to trial.
A timeline of events:
- Jan. 6: Christopher Newsom, 23, and Channon Christian, 21, had dinner at a local restaurant with plans to go to a friend's home to watch a movie. They were last seen leaving an apartment complex.
by multiple suspects and taken to a rental home in the area of Chipman Street. Investigators said Christian was behind the wheel of the vehicle and Newsom was standing in the open door of the vehicle, kissing her, when the two were attacked at gunpoint.
After not hearing from the couple, Christian's mother became worried and called the Newsoms to let them know she was filing a missing person's report.
- Jan. 7: A worker found Newsom's body near the railroad tracks between 9th and Cherry streets. He had been sexually assaulted, shot in the back of the head and set on fire.
- Jan. 8: Christian's family, while helping police search, found her vehicle on Glider Avenue, near Chipman Street. The vehicle was searched, leading to the discovery of fingerprints belonging to a suspect investigators identified as Lemaricus Davidson. Investigators discovered Davidson owned a rental property on Chipman Street.
- Jan. 9: Christian's body was found in a trash can at Davidson's rental property located at 2316 Chipman St., two blocks away from where the vehicle was found.
she had been raped and bleach had been sprayed into her mouth to destroy evidence. Officials said a suspect, later identified as Davidson, broke her neck. A medical examiner said Christian was wrapped in plastic bags and dumped in a trash can where she suffocated.
- Jan. 11: Authorities found two suspects, Letalvis Cobbins, brother to Davidson, and his friend George Thomas, at a home in Lebanon, Ky. Later that same day, Knoxville Police found Lemaricus Davidson at a home on Reynolds Street.
- Jan. 12: Investigators served a fourth suspect, Eric Boyd, with a federal warrant.
Five suspects were involved: Lemaricus Davidson, Letalvis Cobbins, George Thomas, Vanessa Coleman (Cobbins' girlfriend), and Eric Boyd.
- May 28: The case
, in spite of the fact that investigators said the violent killings were random. On May 28, a protest organized by white supremacists occurred. It was met with significant opposition. Police, prosecutors and the families said that Christian and Newsom were not victims of a hate crime.
- March 4: A year and three months after the murders, Knox County's district attorney said he planned to seek the death penalty against four defendants.
- April 4: A federal jury found Eric Boyd guilty of being an accessory after the fact in connection with the case.
- Oct. 10: The home where Christian's body was found was demolished.
- July: For the first time, the victims' families saw pictures of the crime scene on Chipman Street.
- July 21: Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner cleared the way for prosecutors to use evidence collected at the house where Channon Christian's body was found. Three days later, a judge denied a motion to dismiss DNA samples collected at the Chipman Street home.
- Aug. 10: Judge Baumgartner ruled jurors would get to hear some of the phone calls Cobbins made to relatives following his arrest. The calls included comments he made about DNA and other evidence in the case. They also recorded him discussing his membership in a gang.
- August: Cobbins
of first degree murder in the death of Christian and facilitation of murder in connection to the death of Newsom. He was sentenced to life in prison.
- Oct. 28: Davidson was convicted on counts of first degree murder and first degree felony murder. He was also found guilty of facilitation of aggravated rape. Davidson was accused of being the ringleader in the Christian-Newsom case. He was sentenced to death.
- Dec. 8: George Thomas was
on all counts, including more than a dozen counts of felony murder and two counts of premeditated murder. He was sentenced to life in prison.
- May: Coleman was convicted on charges of facilitation of the murder, kidnapping, rape and theft of Christian. She was found not guilty on charges related to Newsom's death.
- July 30: Judge Baumgartner
- January: The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation confirmed they were
, but didn't reveal why.
- Jan. 29: Judge Baumgartner's attorney released a statement saying the judge was "in a healthcare facility receiving medical treatment."
- Feb. 2: WVLT News
, Vicki, at their home in East Knox County. The judge wasn't there. At the time, she said, "I have no comment at this time except to say thanks to his supporters, and please respect our privacy."
- Mid-February: TBI agents raided the home of convicted felon Christopher Gibson on Gap Road. Gibson pleaded guilty in 2007 in Baumgartner's court to aggravated assault and reckless endangerment. Reports alleged that Baumgartner illegally obtained prescription painkiller's from Gibson.
- Feb. 18: WVLT News spoke to
Baumgartner regularly visited Gibson's home.
- March 10: Baumgartner
to official misconduct after evidence confirmed he illegally obtained prescription painkillers, such as percoset, hydrocodone and oxycodone, according to special prosecutor Al Schmutzer. "I have a disease, and it is a serious disease," Baumgartner told the courtroom. Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood gave him a two-year suspended sentence upon completion of judicial diversion.
- Dec. 1: Judge Blackwood
for Cobbins, Davidson, Thomas and Coleman following a two-hour description of Judge Richard Baumgartner's alleged drug activities, citing "structural errors" in the trials.
- Jan. 12: Judge Blackwood
. That same day, he denied the defense a change of venue, but said jurors would not be chosen from Knox County. He set a trial date for Cobbins on Aug. 27, Oct. 22 for Thomas and Nov. 12 for Coleman.
- May 24: The Tennessee Supreme Court
for new trials for Davidson, Cobbins and Thomas because it said the defendants had not known that former Judge Baumgartner's misconduct outside the courtroom impacted their trials. The retrial for Coleman was not challenged as the state conceded Baumgartner "seemed disoriented, speech was very slow... he barely read the verdicts... He was confusing the defendants' names."
- June 4: The District Attorney General's Office asked for Blackwood to
before considering whether Cobbins, Davidson and Thomas should get new trials. "The willful failure of this Court to follow the Tennessee Supreme Court's guidance indicates this Court has lost all semblance of fairness and impartiality," said prosecutors in the motion.
- June 6: Judge Blackwood
for Cobbins, Davidson and Thomas again. Blackwood pointed to Rule 25, which was cited as well in the Supreme Court decision, that allowed the successor judge, in this case Blackwood, "concludes he or she cannot perform (the duties of the original judge) because of the failure to preside at the trial or for any other reason." Judge Blackwood added that he couldn't act as the thirteenth juror in the Christian-Newsom case.
- June 14: Judge Blackwood
at a hearing regarding whether or not he should step down from the Christian-Newsom case. "I intend to be captain of this ship and to run this ship," he said.
- June 21: Judge Blackwood
granting new trials to Cobbins and Davidson and said he would give the state a second chance to argue Blackwood should recuse himself from the case.
- Aug. 20: Judge Blackwood
. Christian's dad said Judge Blackwood needs to step down because he's in it for the publicity. Gary Christian said, "That judge is on a mission. I don't know if it's a book or movie or what exactly he's up to. This ain't about his book or movie. This is about our daughter." At this point, the Newsoms had been in courtrooms 283 times.
- Oct. 3: A state appellate court
in the retrial of Cobbins, Davidson and Thomas. The stay followed an appeal by state after Judge Blackwood refused to recuse himself.
- Oct. 31: Judge Blackwood was
. Kurtz was ordered to oversee the cases of Cobbins, Davidson and Thomas. Judge Blackwood was still set to preside over Coleman's trial in November. Of the four, only Coleman and Thomas received new trials.
- Nov. 20: A jury
. Like her first trial in 2007, Coleman was found not guilty for crimes connected to Newsom. She was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
- May: Thomas was convicted on 38 charges in connection to the kidnapping, rape and murders of Christian and Newsom.
- June 4: Thomas was
. Christian's father, Gary, told Thomas, "You taught me how to hate."
- Dec. 11: Coleman
and will not have a chance again until December 2020.
- Dec. 19: The Tennessee Supreme Court
- April 4: Boyd was
on first degree felony murder, first degree premeditated murder, especially aggravated robbery, especially aggravated kidnapping and aggravated rape charges in connection to the deaths of Christian and Newsom.
- June 27: Boyd appeared in court for a status hearing during which his attorneys filed a motion to hold the trial at a different venue. It was denied.
- Aug. 5: Boyd's
. The jurors include four white men, one black woman, one black man, one Hispanic woman, five white women and four alternates that include three white men and one white woman. Opening statements in the trial were set to begin at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.
- Aug. 6: The trial
- Aug. 7: Convicted killer George Thomas began his testimony.
- Aug. 8: Thomas was cross examined. Mary Newsom, Deena Newsom and Daphne Sutton, Lemaricus Davidson's ex-girlfriend, took the stand.
- Aug. 12: Closing arguments were made, and the jury deliberated before being sent home for the day.
- Aug. 13: After more than a week of trial, the