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DA: Death penalty out in all but one of four torture slaying suspects


It’s official.
Death is no longer a possible fate for three of four defendants in the January 200
Pictured is Lemaricus Davidson, upper left, Vanessa Coleman, Letalvis Cobbins, lower left and George Thomas.
7 torture slayings of a Knox County couple.
Assistant District Attorney General Leland Price has filed notice of an intention to seek the death penalty as punishment in the deaths of Channon Christian, 21, and boyfriend Christopher Newsom, 23, only against alleged ringleader Lemaricus Davidson.
Price this month notified attorneys for Davidson’s brother, Letalvis Cobbins, and Cobbins’ friend, George Thomas, that he will push for a fate in their cases no more than life without possibility of parole. Because Cobbins’ girlfriend, Vanessa Coleman, was acquitted of a direct role in the deaths, Price hasn’t filed a notice of punishment sought in her case.
The move comes after a special judge ordered up new trials for all four defendants in the wake of a prescription pill abuse scandal involving the judge who once presided over the case. The pleadings filed by Price seem to settle the question of whether retrials might serve up a second shot at death as punishment for all four defendants.
Jurors chosen from two different counties rejected death as punishment in the cases of Cobbins and Thomas at their trials, presided over by Knox County Criminal Court JudgeRichard Baumgartner in 2009. A jury for fourth defendant Coleman also was chosen from outside Knox County and acquitted Coleman of any direct role in the slayings of Christian and Newsom.
Channon Christian
Christopher Newsom
Age: 21University of Tennessee studentParents: Gary and Deena ChristianCarjacked and kidnapped on Jan. 7, 2007She and boyfriend Newsom were later raped and murdered.
Age: 23Halls High School graduateParents: Hugh and Mary NewsomCarjacked and kidnapped on Jan. 7, 2007He and girlfriend Christian were later raped and murdered.

Davidson, on the other hand, inexplicably sought a jury from Knox County, where upset over the killings ran high. He was sentenced to death.
Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner, who presided over all four trials, admitted last year that he, too, was a criminal addicted to prescription painkillers. As a result of the myriad crimes a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Probe showed Baumgartner had committed while on the bench, Special Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood late last year ordered up new trials for Davidson and his alleged crew.
Under Tennessee law, only a jury can impose death or life without parole as punishment. In cases where either penalty is sought, a prosecutor must convince the panel that certain “aggravating factors” listed in state law outweigh any “mitigating factors” also cited in state law before determining death as punishment.MORE 

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