Defendant George Thomas listens to proceedings on the fifth day of his murder trial Saturday, December 5, 2009 in Knox County Criminal Court.
Chris Newsom and Channon Christian
George Thomas arrived in Nashville at the Charles Bass Correctional Complex on Thursday afternoon.
The jury in the Thomas murder trial recommended a sentence of life in prison with no chance for parole for murders of Chris Newsom and Channon Christian.
The jury noted numerous aggravating circumstances for each of the murders but found they did not outweigh mitigating circumstances.
Thomas was convicted of both the felony murder and premeditated murder of both victims.
His sentence now matches that of Letalvis Cobbins, who was convicted of the murder of Channon Christian but only the facilitation of the murder of Chris Newsom.
As Thomas' case is no longer a case in which the death penalty is in play, only one of his attorneys will continue to be paid by the state. Attorney Stephen Johnson said although only one of them will continue to be paid, both will continue to work on the case.
Defense attorneys W. Thomas Dillard and Stephen Ross Johnson have now issued a written statement:
In the penalty phase of Mr. Thomas' trial, a Hamilton County jury has just returned a verdict sentencing Mr. Thomas to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
There are no winners in this case. The Christian and Newsom families have gone through unimaginable pain and loss. The Thomas family is forever saddened. Our thoughts and prayers are with all three families, whose lives have been permanently changed by this tragedy.
We will continue to pursue the significant legal issues with Mr. Thomas' convictions.
There is still the lingering matter of a motion for acquittal. Judge Richard Baumgartner has reserved judgment on that matter but asked the prosecution to provide a written response to the defense's motion for acquittal.
The first week in January, Baumgartner wants written acquittal arguments from both sides of the case.
Thomas is due in court on February 26 at 1 p.m. for sentencing on the lesser charges for which he was convicted.
Previous: Sentence pending for convicted killer
Shortly before 10 a.m. the jury came in to the courtroom to get answers to two questions.
Jurors asked the Judge Richard Baumgartner if they need to fill out four verdict forms and if they need to read the aggravating factors aloud in the courtroom.
The answer the both of those was yes.
George Thomas did not stand as the jury came into the courtroom and has not done so, since they convicted him on Tuesday.
A panel of 12 Chattanooga jurors began their deliberations at 8:36 a.m. on Thursday morning.
After listening to the grieving parents of Channon Christian and Chris Newsom talk about their children and seeing pictures of the couple alive, the jury will decide what will happen to the man they convicted for the murders of Christian and Newsom.
But while the panel considers the heinous, atrocious and cruelty of the crimes, they must also weigh the abuse and addiction woven into Thomas' childhood and background.
The court saw the first signs of emotion from Thomas on Wednesday afternoon as his mother begged for his life, then told her son she loves him.
Regardless of what the sentence is for Thomas, he will leave Knox County for another jail cell shortly after the sentence is shared with the judge.
After the Letalvis Cobbins' sentencing hearing, Cobbins was transported the next day to Charles Bass Correctional Complex. The facility is a transitional processing center for inmates before they are sent to prison. Cobbins' stayed there for more than a month, before he was sent to the Hardeman County Correctional Facility, which is a medium security prison in Whiteville, TN.
However, on November 2nd, Cobbins was transferred to West Tennessee State Penitentiary which is a maximum security prison.
Moments after Lemaricus Davidson received 4 death sentences, he was taken to Riverbend Maximum Security Institution.