Parole possible for Vanessa Coleman if defense gets wish

7:36 PM, Jan 30, 2013   |    comments
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  • Vanessa Coleman on Day 3 of her retrial.

Vanessa Coleman, the only woman convicted in the brutal murders of a Knox County couple, will be sentenced for the second time for her part in the crimes on Friday.

Channon Christian and Chris Newsom were carjacked, raped, and murdered in January 2007.  Three men, Lemaricus Davidson, Letalvis Cobbins, and George Thomas were convicted in their deaths, along with Vanessa Coleman.

Coleman was granted a new trial after the previous judge admitted to a prescription pain addiction during the trials.  She was retried and found guilty on facilitation charges again in November.  She was originally sentenced to 53 years behind bars.  This time she could face up to 50 years in prison.

It will be up to Special Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood to sentence Coleman.  He will look at several factors in deciding how much time she should spend behind bars, and attorneys on both sides have filed paperwork to support their opinions in the matter.

Prosecutors are pushing for the maximum, saying her admitted drug use "clearly establishes a long history of criminal behavior."  Prosecutors also cite the extreme physical and psychological cruelty that Christian was subjected to during the crimes, and that Coleman did nothing to prevent it. 

They also cited passages from Coleman's journal, calling her time in Tennessee a "big adventure."  Coleman has claimed that she was also a prisoner in the Chipman Street house where Christian died, and could do nothing to stop the crimes.

In court filings, Coleman's attorneys ask for the minimum sentence on every count, and that they be served concurrently.  Prosecutors tell 10news that would mean Coleman would get 15 years for the charge of facilitation of 1st degree murder, at 30 percent.  That is a Class A felony charge with a sentence of 15 to 25 years.  Credit for the six years Coleman has already served behind bars, would make her eligible for parole now.

Coleman's lawyers writethat there was no evidence that she was directly involved in the crimes against Christian, so that could not be used to enhance her sentence. 

Coleman said in the report she has undergone treatment for substance abuse and anger management, and that she's "ready for a positive change in her life."  She said that she was smoking six marijuana joints a day and using cocaine at the time of the crimes, and that she was influenced by "bad guys."

They also said she has no previous record.

Coleman's sentencing is set for noon on Friday.

As for Coleman's co-defendants, a judge recently denied retrials for Davidson and Cobbins.  George Thomas was granted a retrial. A date for that has not been set.


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