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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  • by Me Location: here on Dec 20, 2011 at 11:37 PM
    I just hope this lead to re-convictions with harsher penalties (which they JUSTLY deserve). My heart aches for the families, however. This is sad.
  • by Ken Location: Rockwood, TN on Dec 7, 2011 at 07:40 AM
    Once again we see a travesty of justice which unfortunatly is not a uncommon thing the way our criminal justice system works. Their is little to no regard for the victms family. Mr. Baumgartner (I can no longer call him a Judge)should have to pay all court costs for the new trial and also all expenses incurred by the victim family during this trial.
  • by tersa Location: lenoir city on Dec 7, 2011 at 01:17 AM
    i'm so sorry that this world has got so bad.a judge a judge how sick i am they should put him in the same bar'es with the murder'es he is a the people will be buy your sides .my prayers go up to the one who will have the last word.please hang in there.
  • by Penny Location: Rutledge,tn on Dec 3, 2011 at 02:16 AM
    This breaks my heart, to see these loving parents suffer yet more pain of reliving a parents worse nightmare. I am praying for total justice and praying for all of you! I will tell you the truth, I never believed in death penalty until this trial! I do now, God bless you all!
  • by Amy Location: Knoxville on Dec 2, 2011 at 04:42 PM
    People shouldn't make a big deal about Judge B. He is one of the most awesome people I know and would help you, and has helped many. I dread these trials going on again, But Judge B. Did the best he could. Oh and by law these guys cant get harsher punishments, so leave it alone. Have a heart for the love of God and for Judge B.
    • reply
      by Ken on Dec 7, 2011 at 07:26 AM in reply to Amy
      Are you nuts.... I'd bet you would be "singing a different tune" if it was one of your children that had been slaughtered and tortured as these young people were... Think about it...
  • by chris on Dec 2, 2011 at 03:27 PM
    unbelievable!!! i feel so much for the parents!! having to relive that AGAIN!! and again!! it was a JURY that decided if those four disgraces to humanity were guilty or not..NOT the judge!! he just made sure that no one got out of hand. fine get rid of that judge..but allow the families to FINALLY get some peace over this horrid event.
  • by Michael Location: Oak Ridge on Dec 2, 2011 at 03:25 PM
    The convicted felons are complaining of being mis-treated in prison...They certainly weren't complaining when they raped and cold-bloodedly tortured the innocent kids whose lifes they took! Our court systems need to change for the better and the judges should be held to the highest levels of disipline when they are out of line. It seems that our laws only are only for members in the public and don't apply to people on the bench or in public/government office and that's just wrong! God Be with the parents of the victims through this crazy and very unfare to the family's time. I often wonder why they call it..Criminal Justice when in all fairness to society and victims it should be called..Victims Justice! We need to pass a Bill changing the name because it seems like there is only criminal justice and no victim justice.
  • by Denise Location: knoxville on Dec 2, 2011 at 08:55 AM
    @ Just a parent- let's make this national news. I figure by using Twitter, Facebook etc we can help make sure these sickos get what they should have gotten in the first danged place. I plan to put the word out hot and heavy about this
  • by Racer Dave Location: knox on Dec 2, 2011 at 06:32 AM
    Cobbins said he is being misstreated in jail?? after he did what he did??
  • by OldBikerLady Location: Knoxville on Dec 2, 2011 at 04:03 AM
    My heart breaks for the Christian and Newsom families. Having spoken to Deena about this just this past October we both agreed that the jury made the decisions and that their decisions should stand. However, having found out all this, I dread the day that these trials begin again. Gary, Deena and Mr. and Mrs. Newsom, my every thought and prayer is with you. I only wish that they could ALL get the death penalty now, but the law won't allow it, I'm so sad to say. But this time it will be over. It won't bring back Channon and Chris, but justice will finally be served.
    • reply
      by Chuck on Dec 2, 2011 at 04:06 PM in reply to OldBikerLady
      Having gone through 2 years of my own personal pain and agony awaiting the capture, trial, and conviction of the murderer of my son, Henry James, I can only cry at the pain and torture that both the Christian and Newsom families must endure all over again. Volunteer Tv had arranged for me to meet the family during the first trial, as my son was just murdered then, and I will never forget Mr. Christian and I shedding tears in the hall of the City/County Building. My heart goes out to them, and I am appalled at the actions of Judge Bumgardner, a man whom I deeply respected. I am not GOD and I will not judge him, all I can do is hope and pray that these 4 are convicted again, and if we are lucky, given even harsher sentences. Now is the time that we start rallying around the victims and their families and NOT the lawbreakers!
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