Vanessa Coleman, the only woman charged in the murders of Knoxville couple Channon Christian and Chris Newsom is sentenced to 53 years in prison

5:47 PM, Jul 30, 2010   |    comments
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Judge Richard Baumgartner sentenced Vanessa Coleman to 53 years in prison for her part in the kidnapping, rape, and murder of Channon Christian.

Coleman will serve 25 years for facilitation of first degree murder, 12 years for facilitaion of especially aggravated kidnapping, 4 years for facilitation of theft, and three 12 year sentences to run concurrently for facilitation of aggravated oral, anal, and vaginal rape.

The rest of the sentences will run consecutively for a total of 53 years.

The state had asked for 77 years. The judge delivered the maximum sentence, with the exception of the rape sentences running concurrently. The state had asked for them to run consecutively.

"We were hoping we could get the 77 years, of course, the maximum sentence but this kind of puts a little closure with this so it's fine," Chris Newsom's mother Mary Newsom said.

Coleman must serve at least 30% or more than 15 years of the sentence before being eligible for parole.

"I may not be here when she comes up for parole but I intend for my relatives, my remaining kids, to be there to protest any parole that comes up," Chris Newsom's father Hugh Newsom said.

"I don't care if I'm in a hospital bed or a wheelchair, when she comes up for parole we will be there," Channon Christian's mother Deena Christian said.

In May, a jury found Coleman guilty of 17 counts of facilitation in various crimes against Channon Christian, including facilitation of felony murder and facilitation of aggravated rape.

She was acquitted on dozens of other charges, including any involvement in Chris Newsom's death and rape.

Judge hears arguments

The judge considerd arguments from attorneys on both sides before announcing his decision.

Prosecutor Leland Price argued the enhancing factors that would favor a heavier sentence.

He said the exceptional cruelty and personal injuries to Channon Christian call for a maximum sentence.

Prosecutors wanted all the sentences served consecutively.

Defense attorney Ted Lavit argued mitigating factors.

He said Coleman played a minor role, assisted authorities in their investigation, and acted under duress. He also pointed to her youth (she was 18 at the time) as a mitigating factor.

The judge said the trial jury already considered those factors in finding her guilty of crimes less than the most serious charges so Coleman had already benefited from those mitigating factors.

Christian family takes the stand

Judge Baumgartner also listened as Christian's parents, Deena and Gary Christian, took the stand for their victim impact statements.

Judge Baumgartner also listened as Christian's parents, Deena and Gary Christian, took the stand for their victim impact statements.

Both told the court about how the loss of her daughter has affected them.

"She went to be with God because of you and all the vermin that you ran with," Gary Christian said.

Deena Christian looked at Vanessa Coleman, who showed no emotion.

"You a victim? I think not. An evil monster maybe but not a victim," Deena Christian said.

Three others convicted in the murder case are not elegible for parole: George Thomas and Letalvis Cobbins will spend life behind bars and Lemaricus Davidson got the death penalty.

Eric Boyd is serving a federal sentence for his conviction in the car jacking.

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