After an 11-hour deliberation on Tuesday, a Jackson County jury found Vanessa Coleman guilty on 13 of 17 counts of facilitation to commit the first degree murder of Channon Christian. A sentencing date has not been set, but Coleman is expected to spend decades in jail.
Christian and her boyfriend, Christopher Newsom, were killed in 2007. Newsom was shot and his body burned on railroad tracks. Christian was repeatedly raped by Letalvis Cobbins, Lemaricus Davidson, and George Thomas before she was left to suffocate in a trash can.
Cobbins, Davidson, and George were convicted and sentenced on crimes related to the incident in 2009. Coleman was tried in May 2010. She was acquitted of any role in the crimes against Newsom but found to be a facilitator in the crimes against Christian. Presiding Judge Richard Baumgartner sentenced Coleman to 53 years. Subsequently, Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood ordered a new trial after Baumgartner admitted to using prescription drugs during Coleman's trial.
Double jeopardy prevents Coleman from being retried on the crimes connected to Newsom because she was previously found not guilty. Next month, a new judge is scheduled to decide whether the three male defendants should also be retried as a result of Baumgartner’s misconduct.
Read the jury verdict form.
(Stevie Phillips is an attorney at Davis & Hoss and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423 266-0605.)