The retrial hearing for Letalvis Cobbins, LeMaricus Davidson, George Thomas and Vanessa Coleman gets underway.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The jury has convicted Vanessa Coleman on 13 of 17 counts in the murder of Channon Christian. Those charges included facilitation to commit first degree murder, and facilitation to commit second degree murder. Just like the first trial in 2007, Coleman was found not guilty for crimes connected to Channon's boyfriend, Christopher Newsom.
After deliberating for a couple of hours on Monday night, they had not reached a decision before Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood sent them home.
On Monday, attorneys for Coleman presented their entire case and both sides offered their closing statements before jurors were given their instructions and began deliberations. While Vanessa Coleman refused to testify, her father Greg was the first person to take the stand in her defense.
Greg Coleman told the jury about the day his daughter testified in front of the Grand Jury. He said his daughter wasn't able to direct investigtors to any of the places involved and that she gave them information during the trip before being interviewed in the Federal building. After Vanessa Coleman's name was leaked to the media, Coleman said he "was afraid they'd come and hurt her."
Under cross-examination, prosecutors contended Vanessa could come and go as she pleased. Greg Coleman said he was concerned that Cobbins and Thomas were "watching her (Vanessa) very closely," but added that he didn't do anything about it. Coleman said he wanted her to stay with him, but "she is a young, 18 year-old and is of age."
"She wanted to stay with friends," said Coleman.
After her father stepped down, it was Vanessa Coleman's mother's turn. She described their time in witness protection. She said they heard something outside the hotel room while they were in witness protection, which caused them to believe they'd be better off at home. Prosecutors pushed her on how much she actually knew about her daughter, asking if Vanessa had common sense.
"Well, sometimes," replied Coleman's mother.
Prosecutors also pointed out that, despite claiming they were afraid of retaliation, Vanessa didn't stay at home. They stressed the fact that she would bounce from place to place where Thomas and Cobbins were staying.
During closing arguments, the state laid out its timeline for jurors and explained how it was trying to prove her guilt. Prosecutors argued she had "the opportunity not only to get herself out... but to save Channon." They pointed to evidence taken from Channon's purse and the fact Vanessa touched her as proof she helped the the murder as well as what they described as the "most telling thing in this case," the diary.
Coleman's lawyers, on the other hand argued, here "mere presence" does not convict her, "nor should you (the jurors) on guilt by association."
The defense pointed to the help she gave to investigators. "She provided ammunition to proceed against these other killers," they said.
Coleman's attorneys said the prosecutors provided no evidence and that Coleman had been intimadated by the other three suspects.
"She lied about it, she was told to lie about it," they said.
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