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Update: Victims' families angry over Vanessa Coleman's trial verdict

6:42 PM, May 13, 2010   |    comments
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Vanessa Coleman escaped the death penalty and life in prison. But a jury convicted her Thursday on 17 counts in a kidnapping, rape, and murder case.

The jury found Coleman not guilty of all of the counts related to victim Chris Newsom. Testimony at trial alleged she never saw Newsom.

The 17 convictions all relate to victim Channon Christian. The jury found Coleman facilitated her murder, rape, kidnapping, and theft of property.

Reading the lengthy verdict took almost an hour Thursday afternoon.

Vanessa Coleman's parents, Linda and Greg Coleman, intertwined their arms, held hands, and cried.

Coleman herself smiled at times.

"She was getting away with murder, she was pretty happy," Channon Christian's mother Deena Christian said. "But that doesn't make us happy about it."

When the verdict reading was finished, Judge Richard Baumgartner thanked jurors for their service and sent them back to the hotel where they have been sequestered for almost two weeks

This is the fifth trial the victims families have endured.

The evidence included graphic autopsy photos of their children and detailed accounts of the pain they suffered.

After the verdict was read, Deena Christian hugged the prosecutors, Takisha Fitzgerald and Leland Price. The families have been with them for close to three years as the various cases worked their way through the legal system.

All four parents of the victims said they were not pleased with the verdict.

"Channon and Chris both deserve justice and justice was not served here today," Deena Christian said.

Gary Christian added, "Two Nashville juries and two jokes. They must be used to killing people in Nashville and getting away with it."

A different jury also selected from the Nashville area found defendant Letalvis Cobbins guilty of Christian's murder and facilitation of Newsom's murder. He was sentenced to life in prison without a chance for parole.

Cobbins' friend George Thomas was convicted of both murders and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole.

Lemaricus Davidson was convicted of first degree murder for the deaths of Christian and Newsom. He has been sentenced to die.

"There will never be any closure now. We were hoping for closure but this isn't going to do it," Chris Newsom's mother Mary Newsom said.

Hugh Newsom, Chris's father, agreed. "There's no closure. Our justice system has let us down and we're very disappointed in it from the beginning to the end."

This may or may not be the end.

The families fear they will face years of appeals in the cases.

The prosecutors say the investigation is ongoing.

They did not address suspect Eric Boyd specifically. He was convicted in federal court for the carjacking but not tried in connection with the rapes and murders.

 

Coleman is the only one of four defendants charged with murder in this case to not be convicted of murder.

Sentencing is set for July 30.

The rundown: What the jury found

  • Not guilty: First degree felony murder of Hugh Christopher Newsom during the perpetration of kidnapping of Hugh Christopher Newsom. Not guilty of any lesser included charges in Count Five.
  • Not guilty: First degree felony murder of Hugh Christopher Newsom during the perpetration of kidnapping of Channon Christian. Not guilty of any lesser included charges in Count Six.
  • Guilty: Facilitation of first degree felony murder of Channon Christian during the perpetration of kidnapping of Hugh Christopher Newsom. Not guilty of first degree felony murder of Channon Christian, the basis for Count Seven.
  • Guilty: Facilitation of first degree felony murder of Channon Christian, during the perpetration of kidnapping of Channon Christian. Not guilty of first degree felony murder of Channon Christian, the basis for Count Eight.
  • Not guilty: First degree felony murder of Hugh Christopher Newsom during the perpetration of rape of Hugh Christopher Newsom. Not guilty of any lesser included charges in Count Nine.
  • Not guilty: First degree felony murder of Hugh Christopher Newsom during the perpetration of rape by oral penetration of Channon Christian. Not guilty of any lesser included charges in Count Ten.
  • Not guilty: First degree felony murder of Channon Christian, during the perpetration of rape of Hugh Christopher Newsom. Not guilty of any lesser included charges in Count Eleven.
  • Guilty: Facilitation of first degree felony murder of Channon Christian, during the perpetration of rape by oral penetration of Channon Christian. Not guilty of first degree felony murder, the basis for Count Twelve.
  • Not guilty: First degree felony murder of Hugh Christopher Newsom during the perpetration of theft of Hugh Christopher Newsom. Not guilty of any lesser included charges in Count Thirteen.
  • Not guilty: First degree felony murder of Hugh Christopher Newsom, during the perpetration of theft of Channon Christian. Not guilty of any lesser included charges in Count Fourteen.
  • Not guilty: First degree felony murder of Channon Christian, during the perpetration of theft of Hugh Christopher Newsom. Not guilty of any lesser included charges in Count Fifteen.
  • Guilty: Facilitation of first degree felony murder of Channon Christian, during the perpetration of theft of Channon Christian. Not guilty of first degree felony murder of Channon Christian, the basis of Count Sixteen.
  • Guilty: Facilitation of premeditated first degree murder of Channon Christian. Not guilty of premeditated first degree murder of Channon Christian, the basis of Count Eighteen.
  • Not guilty: Especially aggravated robbery of Hugh Christopher Newsom. Not guilty of any lesser included charges of Count Nineteen.
  • Not guilty: Especially aggravated kidnapping of Hugh Christopher Newsom, accomplished with a deadly weapon. Not guilty of any lesser included charges of Count Twenty-one.
  • Not guilty: Especially aggravated kidnapping of Hugh Christopher Newsom, with serious bodily injury. Not guilty of any lesser included charges of Count Twenty-two.
  • Guilty: Facilitation of especially aggravated kidnapping of Channon Christian accomplished with a deadly weapon. Not guilty of especially aggravated kidnapping of Channon Christian, accomplished with a deadly weapon, the basis of Count Twenty-three.
  • Guilty: Facilitation of especially aggravated kidnapping of Channon Christian accomplished with serious bodily injury. Not guilty of especially aggravated kidnapping of Channon Christian, with serious bodily injury, the basis of Count Twenty-four.
  • Not guilty: Aggravated rape of Hugh Christopher Newsom, by coercive anal penetration while armed with a weapon. Not guilty of any lesser included charges on Count Twenty-six.
  • Not guilty: Aggravated rape of Hugh Christopher Newsom, by anal penetration with bodily injury. Not guilty of any lesser included charges on Count Twenty-seven.
  • Not guilty: Aggravated rape of Hugh Christopher Newsom, by coercive anal penetration while aided and abetted by one or more persons. Not guilty of any lesser included charges of Count Twenty-nine.
  • Guilty: Facilitation of aggravated rape of Channon Christian, by coercive anal penetration while armed with a weapon. Not guilty of aggravated rape of Channon Christian by coercive anal penetration while armed with a weapon, the basis of Count Thirty-three.
  • Guilty: Facilitation of aggravated rape of Channon Christian, by coercive oral penetration while armed with a weapon. Not guilty of aggravated rape of Channon Christian by coercive oral penetration while armed with a weapon, the basis of Count Thirty-four.
  • Guilty: Facilitation of aggravated rape of Channon Christian, by coercive vaginal penetration while armed with a weapon. Not guilty of aggravated rape of Channon Christian by coercive vaginal penetration while armed with a weapon, the basis of Count Thirty-five.
  • Guilty: Facilitation of aggravated rape of Channon Christian, by anal penetration with bodily injury. Not guilty of aggravated rape of Channon Christian, the basis of Count Thirty-six.
  • Guilty: Facilitation of aggravated rape of Channon Christian by oral penetration with bodily injury. Not guilty of aggravated rape of Channon Christian by oral penetration with bodily injury, the basis of Count Thirty-seven.
  • Guilty: Facilitation of aggravated rape of Channon Christian by vaginal penetration with bodily injury. Not guilty of aggravated rape of Channon Christian by vaginal penetration with bodily injury, the basis of Count Thirty-eight.
  • Guilty: Facilitation of aggravated rape of Channon Christian by coercive anal penetration while aided and abetted by one or more persons. Not guilty of aggravated rape of Channon Christian by coercive anal penetration while aided and abetted by one or more persons.
  • Guilty:¬†Facilitation of aggravated rape of Channon Christian by coercive oral penetration while aided and abetted by one or more persons. Not guilty of aggravated rape of Channon Christian by coercive oral penetration while aided and abetted by one or more persons, the basis of Count Forty-three.
  • Guilty: Facilitation of aggravated rape of Channon Christian by coercive vaginal penetration while aided and abetted by one or more persons. Not guilty of aggravated rape of Channon Christian by coercive vaginal penetration while aided and abetted by one or more persons, the basis of Count Forty-four.
  • Not guilty: Theft of property of Hugh Christopher Newsom, valued at $500 or less.
  • Guilty: Facilitation of theft of property of Channon Christian, valued at $10,000 or more but less than $60,000. Not guilty of Theft of property of Channon Christian, valued at $10,000 or more but less than $60,000, the basis of Count Forty-six.

Document: Vanessa Coleman verdict form

Previously: Deliberations continue

The jury in the Vanessa Coleman murder trial started a second day of deliberations Thursday morning at 8:30.

They deliberated all day Wednesday without reaching a verdict.

Knoxville couple Channon Christian and Chris Newsom were carjacked, kidnapped, raped, and murdered in January 2007. Vanessa Coleman faces the death penalty if she's convicted in the most serious of the crimes.

Wednesday the jury asked the judge two questions, one about the legal doctrine of criminal responsibility and the other about the definition of perpetration.

Lemaricus Davidson was convicted of first degree murder for the deaths of Christian and Newsom. He has been sentenced to die.

His half-brother, Letalvis Cobbins, was Vanessa Coleman's boyfriend at the time of the crimes. He was convicted in the murder of Channon Christian and of facilitation in the murder of Chris Newsom. He was sentenced to life in prison without a chance for parole.

Cobbins' friend George Thomas was convicted of both murders and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole.

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