Coleman gets 53 years for role in Christian-Newsom killing

Vanessa Coleman
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The lone woman put on trial and convicted in connection with the kidnapping, torture and rape of a young Knoxville couple has the chance for parole in 16 years.

Vanessa Coleman was sentenced to serve 53 years in prison Friday for her role in what happened to Channon Christian and Chris Newsom three and a half years ago.

She could be eligible for parole after serving 30% of that.

All day long, Coleman was stoic. We didn't spot any tears.

She didn't hang her head and she made eye contact with those who addressed her.

It started as so many other court appearances for Vanessa Coleman she was led in, in cuffs.

Her face lit up when she saw her family.

But unlike every other time she's been in court, the Christian family spoke to her directly.

Gary Christian made it a point to lock eyes and let her feel what was coming.

"Young lady, you are pure evil," Gary Christian told her.

Both of Channon's parents took the stand and reminded Vanessa Coleman what she took from them.

Deena Christian scoffed as she quoted Coleman's journal about the ordeal: "Let's talk about adventure. I've had one hell of an adventure since I've been in the big Tennessee."

Her lawyers argued that Coleman was a victim too.
But the judge disagreed.

"Her behavior out there indicates that she has no regard for human life," Judge Richard Baumgartner told the court during his decision.

Prosecutors asked for 77 years, they got 53.

Here's how he arrived at that number:
25 years for Facilitation of Premeditated Murder of Christian
12 years for Facilitation of Especially Aggravated Kidnapping of Christian accomplished with deadly weapons
12 years for Facilitation of Aggravated Anal, Oral and Vaginal Rape of Christian
4 years for Facilitation of Theft from Christian

"I would have given her the maximum," Hugh Newsom reacted. "I think she was due it."

"I don't know if I could go through another trial again," Mary Newsom said, "which we may have to do, but I sure wouldn't want to. It's been a long three and a half years."

The Newsoms didn't get to say anything to the last defendant convicted because she wasn't found guilty of any crimes related to their son Chris.

The Christians did, but that still hasn't lifted the heavy burden that weighs on them.

"Ok, well, she's gone. Y'all can rest easy," Gary Christian smirked to the media. "But as a matter of principle, it should have been 77 years."

"It was just nice to see that smile get knocked off her face," Deena Christian added.

Vanessa Coleman had the opportunity to speak.

She could have taken the stand to say 'I'm sorry' or to simply show remorse.

She chose not to.

The Newsoms said they would have liked to hear an apology.

The Christians said they would have gotten up and walked out if she had taken the stand.

Also on Friday, Judge Baumgartner set court dates for Vanessa Coleman, Letalvis Cobbins and George Thomas to return for motions hearings where their attorneys will ask for a new trial.
Previous story:

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A Knox County judge sentenced Vanessa Coleman to 53 years in prison Friday for her role in the January 2007 killing of Channon Christian, 21, and Christopher Newsom, 23.

Coleman was convicted of facilitating the crimes against Christian, but was acquitted for any wrongdoing in Newsom's death.

Christian and Newsom were carjacked at a North Knoxville apartment complex, kidnapped and taken to a home on Chipman Street.

Newsom was taken to some nearby railroad tracks, raped, shot to death and his body was set on fire. Christian was held for days, raped, beaten and stuffed into a trashcan where she suffocated.

Volunteer TV has a reporter in the courtroom for the sentencing, and we will have the latest information on Volunteer TV News and on

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