Stevie Phillips: Jury Convicts In Retrial Of Vanessa Coleman

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - by Stevie Phillips
Stevie Phillips
Stevie Phillips
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 or 423 266-0605.)

TNECD Announces 5 New Select Tennessee Certified Sites

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development on Tuesday announced five new Select Tennessee Certified Sites. The Select Tennessee program was launched in 2012 to help Tennessee communities prepare available industrial sites for investment and expansion. The program sets rigorous standards to give companies reliable information when making location choices during ... (click for more)

Tennessee American Water Asks Suck Creek Customers To Voluntarily Conserve Non-essential Water Usage

Tennessee American Water is asking water customers in its Suck Creek District to voluntarily conserve water usage for non-essential purposes until further notice from the company. Extreme drought has caused decrease in the well capacity at the Suck Creek water plant. The Suck Creek wells provide two-thirds of the water for the approximately 250 customers in Suck Creek in Marion ... (click for more)

Cold Case Unit Makes Arrest In Murders Of Brothers In Brainerd Almost 20 Years Ago; Detectives Say Brainerd Jeweler Rick Davis Tied To Incident

The Cold Case Unit set up by District Attorney Neal Pinkston has made an arrest in the murders of two brothers in Brainerd almost 20 years ago. The Hamilton County Grand Jury on Monday indicted 52-year old Christopher Jeffre Johnson on two counts of first-degree murder in the January 1997 deaths of Sean and Donny Goetcheus. The 25-year old Sean Goetcheus and his ... (click for more)

Gang Member, 22, Shot In The Arm On Wilcox Boulevard Early Tuesday Morning

A 22-year-old man was shot in the arm in the 1800 block of Wilcox Boulevard early Tuesday morning. Just after midnight, Chattanooga Police responded to a report of shots fired. Upon arrival, police located Jakobi Buthelezi Johnson suffering from a very minor, single gunshot wound. Hamilton County EMS transported the victim to a local hospital for treatment. The victim ... (click for more)

October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Picture a sold-out baseball game at Wrigley Field or Nationals Park packed with 40,000 fans. That image represents roughly the same number of women and men who die from breast cancer each year.  In Tennessee alone, an estimated 900 women will die from the disease in 2016. It is a sad statistic, but there is some good news: thanks to early detection and improved treatments, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: What Southerners Sing

Barry Norris plays the organ at Birmingham’s East Lake United Methodist Church and two days ago the church hosted what we used to call “A Singing on the Grounds.” Today it is called a “Hymnfest” and, believe it or not, it is has to be just as fun today as it was 100 years ago when our forefathers tied their horse and wagon to a tree. It just so happens I know a little bit about ... (click for more)