Jury seated for Vanessa Coleman retrial

7:42 PM, Nov 9, 2012   |    comments
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A jury has been seated for the retrial of Vanessa Coleman.  It consists of 6 women and 6 men.  Five of them are caucasian, seven are African-American.  There are four alternates: two men and two women.

10News reporter Hillary Lake will have a full report on jury selection on Friday's 10News at 5 & 6.

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Prosecutors and defense attorneys have spent much of the day questioning potential jurors for Vanessa Coleman's retrial.

As of 3:45 pm Friday, 16 people have been dismissed from the jury pool.  That's in addition to a group that was granted hardship dismissals.

The goal is to find 12 jurors and several alternates who can travel to Knoxville next week to hear the case.  The jury would be sequestered.

A few of the potential jurors admitted they had heard about the case, one even said she'd googled Judge Blackwood's name.

10News reporter Hillary Lake will have a full report on jury selection on Friday's 10News at 5 & 6.

Previous story


A jury from West Tennessee is being selected to hear the retrial of the only woman who was convicted in connection with the murders of a young Knox County couple.

For continuous updates, follow 10News reporter Hillary Lake on twitter @hillary lake

Vanessa Coleman was convicted of facilitation of the carjacking, rape, and murder of Channon Christian in 2007.  She was not found guilty on charges related to the death of Christian's boyfriend, Chris Newsom, so jurors will not hear details about that victim.

The retrial comes after the presiding judge, Richard Baumgartner, admitted to a prescription pill addiction and stepped down from the bench.  He has since been found guilty of misprision of a felony.  Retrials for the three men convicted in the murders are back in question, after replacement Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood was removed from there cases.

Judge Blackwood will preside over Coleman's trial, which gets underway Tuesday in Knox County.  On Friday, he is in Jackson, in West Tennessee, to select a jury for the case.

Five hundred potential jurors have been called. Jury selection will take place in two courtrooms, and the judge anticipates completing jury selection on Friday. Those selected for the jury will be brought to Knoxville and sequestered during the trial.

Judge Blackwood told the jury pool that "a hero stands up and does his duty and doesn't run away." He knows it will be hardship on those selected to be away from their family and jobs for an extended period of time. He spent about 30 minutes talking to them about their duty and the fact they lived "in the greatest county in the world" because of the rights and choices we have.

Vanessa Coleman is in the courtroom, along with her attorney, Ted Lavit. Prosecutors Takisha Fitzgerald and Leland Price are also there. They prosecuted the previous case against Coleman and her co-defendants.

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