Christian, Newsom families share thoughts on rape and murder retrials

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The Christian and Newsom families feel the past 5 years have all been a waste. The pain of re-living the torture, rape, and murder of their children through 4 trials will all happen, yet again.

They say hearing the details of Judge Richard Baumgartner's pill addiction revealed a lot.

Understandably they're very upset. They sat through four trials that outlined the extent of pain their children faced, and now, because of the judge's pill addiction, they have to go through it all again.

More than two years after Channon Christian and Chris Newsom were carjacked, raped, and murdered, four people faced trial on those charges: Letalvis Cobbins, Lemaricus Davidson, George Thomas, and Vanessa Coleman.

But now, almost 5 years after that January night, it's going to start all over.

Deena Christian, mother of Channon, said, "We have been defending Baumgartner from day 1, but from what I saw in their [Thursday], he had no business being on the bench."

Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood revealed a lot about Richard Baumgartner's addiction.

Mary Newsom, mother of Chris, said, "I wanted to know, and I guess I can say I'm glad to know. I wish I didn't know now."

Blackwood outlined statements from the TBI's investigation into Baumgartner's pill abuse, and told the court he is humiliated that Baumgartner abused his role as a judge.

But Gary Christian, Channon's father, expressed humiliation on a totally different level. "I watched my family and friends sit through four trials, public humiliation. My daughter would be mortified, if she was still with us, of the pictures that you and the public saw of her," he said.

Mary Newsom said, "I was shocked. It was unbelievable. It was a lot worse than what I had thought. We've wasted four years."

Deena and Gary thought back to the trials, and said they thought Baumgartner was in poor health. Deena said, "We got in trouble for crying, when they showed pictures of our daughter laying on a slab." Gary then said, "We were told not to cry by a judge that was on more narcotics than an elephant should be able to stand."

But, they also learned that several people in Baumgartner's life told him he had issues and shouldn't be serving on the Christian, Newsom trials.

Gary said, "Half this court house knew something about the problem that Baumgartner was in. Some made some suggestions, talked about it, but nobody did anything."

Mary Newsom understood Blackwood's decision and said, "I'd have to agree, that if he was doing everything that he did, that he wasn't competent and that they all deserve a new trial. Which I hate to say that, but it's true."

But the Christians believe Baumgartner was fair to the defendants during the trials. "I still don't see any reason why we should have to go through this again," Deena Christian said.

Hugh Newsom, father of Chris, described the entire process, "Physically drains you, emotionally."

Hugh Newsom also wanted to share that they recently toured a maximum security prison in Nashville, and feels that criminals are actually being "spoiled."

Hugh's thoughts were also in response to Letalvis Cobbins' comments in court Thursday. After learning he will get a new trial, he stood up and told the court is faces "ill treatment" at the prison everyday. Cobbins' statement caused Gary Christian to suddenly stand up in court, clearly mad, but Judge Blackwood ended court and sent all the defendants back to prison.

Now as they look to the future, Mary said, "One day at a time, that's the way it's going to be."

Gary said, "We got 4 more, 5 more years of living hell."

The families say, yet again, their children have not received justice.

And they'll have to wait for the new trials, but they say they will be there, right in the front row to make sure their children are taken care of.

Judge Blackwood scheduled a motions hearing for January 12th, when they will lay out the new time line for the trials.


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