KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Convicted murderer and rapist Eric Boyd stood stoic before a Knoxville courtroom on Tuesday afternoon as a jury found him guilty of all charges in the 2007 torture slayings of Chris Newsom and Channon Christian.
In the gallery behind him, a collective gasp resounded from the area where Channon Christian and Chris Newsom's loved ones sat and processed the reality that one of their children's killers will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars.
"Twelve years ago we made a promise to Chris," Mary Newsom, Chris's mother, said. "And today, that promise was fulfilled. This is the closure we've been looking for."
For Christian and Newsom's family and friends, this final conviction of Eric Boyd marks a conclusion of sorts to a long-fought battle they hoped would bring justice to a man they said escaped it twelve years ago.
"Our final goodbye to Chris...we embraced him in his body bag. We were not allowed to see him," Hugh Newsom, Chris's father, said. "At that particular time, Mary and I both promised we would not stop until Eric Boyd was prosecuted for killing him."
Hugh Newsom said he and his wife, Mary Newsom, worked for years to bring Boyd to justice, consulting help from a retired lawyer in California who encouraged the couple through the years-long saga of convicting Boyd in their son's death.
"There were several times when we wanted to give up and [the lawyer] wouldn't let us," Hugh Newsom said. "He kept us energized."
The Newsom family had long suspected Eric Boyd of being the person who raped, shot, and left their son's burned body by railroad tracks in 2007.
"I cried but those were happy tears, and a mother's instinct is never wrong," Mary Newsom said. "And I had the instinct from the beginning that it was [Boyd] who killed Chris."
Eric Boyd was convicted of first-degree felony, rape, and kidnapping in the 2007 torture slaying of Chris Newsom. The jury also found the 47-year-old guilty in the rape and death of Channon Christian.
Deena Christian, Channon's mother, thanked the jury for their diligence and hard work throughout the trial.
"The two Knox County juries that we've had through all of these seven or eight trials.. are the two juries that have really stepped up and done what's right. So I'm really grateful to this state of Tennessee," Deena Christian said.
Gary Christian agreed and said though the family's days in court are not over, the trial's conclusion provides solace.
"We'll never get justice on this Earth, but I think we got them all the best we can," Gary Christian, Channon's father, said. "And that's what I promised my daughter, that they wouldn't hurt anybody else."
As the trial comes to a definitive end and Boyd prepares for a Sept. 18 sentencing, the Newsoms and Christians both said Tuesday's outcome marked the completion of promises they made to a beloved son who "loved life...and always had a smile on his face", and a cherished daughter whose smile "lit up a room".
They were children whose lives were taken too soon but whose memories persist in the hearts of the families who will continue to try and bring justice to their legacy.
Mary Newsom remembered the last Christmas she spent with her son and when she asked him what he wanted for Christmas.
"His answer was world peace," she said. "And I thought, my God. He's got peace now. Not in this world. But he's got peace. I hope he would be proud of us."
Both the Newsoms and Christians said that although their days in court aren't over yet -- they now hope, with this final suspect behind bars, that they can find peace themselves.
"I can go to my grave now satisfied that I fought a good fight," Hugh Newsom said.