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Christian, Newsom families satisfied with Blackwood recusal

11:50 PM, Oct 25, 2012   |    comments
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The parents of murder victims Channon Christian and Chris Newsom said they were satisfied with the order to pull judge Jon Kerry Blackwood from three retrial cases Thursday.

"Getting closer to the justice for Chris and Channon," said mother Mary Newsom.

Both families had concern over whether Judge Blackwood had impartiality over the hearings for retrials for Lemaricus Davidson, Letalvis Cobbins, George Thomas, and Vanessa Coleman. Late last year, they were granted retrials in the double murders of the young Knoxville couple.

"We waited for, what was it, over a year now where we had to sit there and listen to all these motions?" questioned Deena Christian, Channon's mother.

The order stated that Judge Blackwood was to be recused from the three male defendants, but will still preside over the Vanessa Coleman retrial.

Both families say the judge was biased as a 13th juror following the removal of the trial's original judge, Richard Baumgartner.

"And his excuse in the courtroom was, in the motion hearings, was he did not have all the facts. How can you not have all the facts and make decisions?" Deena added.

The order detailed Blackwood's 16-month involvement in the Christian-Newsom case, including an outburst between him and Knox County D.A. Randy Nichols in June.

The order said in part, "...the combination of actions and comments by Judge Blackwood, as detailed in this opinion, would lead an objective person to reasonably question the impartiality of Judge Blackwood in these three cases."

"Court of appeals had to stand up and stop this crazy stuff. He was not... fit; he was not objective," the Christians said.

However, there is a point of concern for both families.

They say if Blackwood was recused from the three male defendants' cases, they feared the judge could show bias in Vanessa Coleman's retrial.

"Prosecutors made a compromise and said 'okay, we'll agree for a new trial.' But here you have Judge Blackwood. Now you have a real issue of prejudice," Hugh Newsom said.

The state will appoint a new judge to take over the retrials. That new judge will determine if Davidson, Cobbins, and Thomas should be granted new trials.

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