The retrial hearing for Letalvis Cobbins, LeMaricus Davidson, George Thomas and Vanessa Coleman gets underway.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP/WVLT) -- The Tennessee Supreme Court is overturning a special judge's decision to order new trials for three murder defendants after the judge in their original trial pleaded guilty to official misconduct.
The court ruled Thursday that the order for new trials for Lemaricus Davidson, Letalvis Cobbins and George Thomas must be vacated because the defendants had not shown that former Judge Richard Baumgartner's misconduct outside the courtroom affected their trials. The Supreme Court sent the cases back to the original trial court to reconsider the new trial motions.
The Court did not that the order for a re-trial for the fourth defendant Vanessa Coleman was not challenged after the state conceded Baumgartner "seemed disoriented, speech was very slow... he barely read the verdicts... He was confusing the defendants' names."
The three were convicted in 2009 in the slayings of 21-year-old Channon Christian and 23-year-old Christopher Newsom.
Later, an investigation found Baumgartner was abusing pills acquired from a drug court graduate. In December, Special Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood ordered the retrials.