90 3 LINKEDIN 1 COMMENTMORE

The families of Chris Newsom and Channon Christian traveled once again to Nashville on Wednesday to meet with lawmakers and the governor about two bills they hope will change the way the state justice system works.

The House Civil Justice Subcommittee unanimously voted both bills through.

The young couple was carjacked, tortured, raped and murdered in 2007. Five people were convicted in connection with their deaths.

Their parents have worked with local lawmakers to draft two separate pieces of legislation that they hope will spare other families what they had to endure during the trials and two retrials of those responsible for the murders.

The first bill is the Chris Newsom Act, which would effectively do away with the state's "13th Juror" rule, which says a judge must validate the receipt and acceptance of a jury verdict by signing a document. That rule was the reason two of those convictions were overturned and the families had to endure the trials and convictions once again.

The second bill is called the Channon Christian Act. It would prevent defense attorneys from introducing allegations of previous behavior that calls into question the character of a victim.

On Wednesday, the two couples met privately with Governor Bill Haslam. They said he supports the legislation.

"He could see that as a father a lot of the things that drove me nuts would've affected him the same way. And I think he's behind us," said Gary Christian, after the meeting.

They then testified before the House Judiciary Subcommittee to encourage members to support the bills.

"I still struggle daily with the fact that I couldn't protect my daughter," Deena Christian told the lawmakers.

State Sen. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, and Rep. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville, are co-sponsors of the bills.

Rep. Haynes got emotional while speaking to the committee members; he knew Channon Christian.

"We obviously never wanted to do this until we were asked by the family and when they asked I was happy to do it," Rep. Haynes said.

Now that the House Civil Justice Subcommittee voted unanimously in favor of both the bills, it will go to the full House Civil Justice Committee for a vote, then the House for approval.

"That's about the best thing we can do to support the kids and remember the kids, and not forget the kids," Mary Newsom said.

Hugh Newsom went on to say, "There's nothing for us to gain personally from it beyond the satisfaction that we can keep another family from having to go through that."

The two bills have already passed unanimously in the Senate.

The bills must pass both the full House and the Senate, before the governor could sign the legislation into state law.

90 3 LINKEDIN 1 COMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://on.wbir.com/1fsjdyq