KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood denied the state's appeal to prevent the retrial of the four defendants originally convicted of the torture and killings of Channon Christian and Chris Newsom on Thursday.
"It was a bad decision. And it should be appealed," said Gary Christian.
Later that afternoon, Blackwood also denied the defense's change of venue motion But said jurors will not be chosen from Knox Co.
Blackwood also set trials Aug. 27 for Letalvis Cobbins, Oct. 22 for George Thomas and Nov. 12 for Vanessa Coleman. He stated he hoped to have the trials completed by the end of the year, for the families' sakes.
Hugh Newsom said, "I don't think any consideration was given for us in any of these hearings."
When denying the state's appeal of Blackwood's decision to order new trials, the judge acknowledged the strain new trials would put on the victims' family, he described his decision as an obligation of the court, saying "he made the right decision." He added that he hoped to have all four trials wrapped up by the end of the year.
Mary Newsom told us, "This was a very disappointing day. My stomach is still upset. I have lost all respect for the justice system."
The state now must decide if it wishes to appeal Blackwood's verdict to Appellate Court.
In November, Blackwood granted the defendents' motion for new trials following a two-hour description of Judge Richard Baumgartner's alleged drug activities, citing "structural errors" in the trials.
Baumgartner, who presided over all of the cases, lost his license earlier this after pleading guilty to drug charges. "I don't know whether you call it judicial corruption, stupidity, or arrogance," Blackwood said after laying out the allegations against Baumgartner. "I call it committing a crime."
"Baumgartner had a choice," he declared. "He chose pill taking."
Letalvis Cobbins, LeMaricus Davidson, George Thomas and Vanessa Coleman were convicted separately for their involvement in the carjacking, raping, torture, and killing of Channon Christian and Chris Newsom four years ago.
Blackwood said that without any doubt Baumgartner knew he was addicted, at least since 2008. Reports presented by the judge during the hearing indicated Baumgartner would receive dozens of hydrocodone every few days and was visiting several doctors. One woman claimed she would provide the former judge with 30 pills a week and had sex with him several times in Baumgartner's office.
According to a TBI file presented during the hearing, a doctor reportedly told Baumgartner in 2008 that he should resign, but he replied that he needed "three more years."
Attorneys for the defendents argued Thursday morning that Judge Richard Baumgartner failed to act as the 13th juror during the defendants' trials, while prosecutors countered that Baumgartner handled each of the cases carefully and his judgement was not impaired.
State's attorneys added that questioning this would put thousands of cases into doubt. Prosecutors warned that if the fact a judge was using pain medications as grounds for a reversal, that ruling could have "far-reaching implications."
Christian said the hearings boiled down to one thing; "What this court seems to have forgotten, is that there was a young man, and a young woman, normal kids, going to college, going to work every day, and they were taken, they were raped, they were beaten, they were shot, they were set on fire, stuffed in garbage cans that's what this is all about."