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Tennessee court system says Christian/Newsom petition in vain


An undated family photo shows murder victims Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom.
PHOTO BY FAMILY PHOTO
An undated family photo shows murder victims Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom.
The email messages keep coming in, but the judges say it's all in vain.
Tennessee's higher court justices won't consider the thousands of email petitions received against a retrial in the Christian/Newsom case, no matter how many people send them.
More than 16,000 people nationwide have signed and forwarded an online petition so far asking the state Supreme Court, Gov. Bill Haslam and former Knoxville Mayor Daniel Brown to block a special judge's decision throwing out all four convictions in the 2007 rape, kidnapping, carjacking and killing of Channon Christian and Chris Newsom.
"They're trickling in all the time," said Laura Click, spokeswoman for the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts. "It's the exact same email, over and over again."
Click said the judges respect the public's interest in the case but won't be swayed by anything other than evidence or the law. To do otherwise would violate a bedrock principle of judicial ethics, she said.
Knox County prosecutors have said they'll appeal the case to the state Court of Criminal Appeals. That appeal should be filed by early January, said John Gill, special counsel for the Knox County district attorney general.
That's the only argument against a retrial the higher courts will consider.
"In other words, a judge cannot consider any communications made to the judge without the parties in the case being present," Click said. "I think people are upset and frustrated, and they're looking for ways to express their concern."
The governor has said he has no power to prevent a retrial.
Christian, 21, and Newsom, 23, were on a date when they were carjacked the night of Jan. 7, 2007. They were held hostage at a rented house on Chipman Street in North Knoxville, where they were raped, tortured and killed.
Juries found four people — Lemaricus Davidson, Letalvis Cobbins, George Thomas and Vanessa Coleman — guilty in the couple's deaths, but Special Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood overturned those verdicts this month after revelations that former Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner presided over the trials while abusing prescription drugs he bought from a felon on probation in his court. Baumgartner resigned in March and pleaded guilty to official misconduct, a felony.
Christian's cousin Brandon Sterne of Concrete, Wash., started the online petition athttp://www.change.org within a few days of Blackwood's decision  SOURCE

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