In early January, 2007, Knoxville’s Chris Newsom and his girlfriend Channon Christian planned to have a mellow evening out. What they found was hell, and one of the perpetrators who created that hell is now up for parole. The friends, family, and supporters of Chris and Channon have created an online petition to deny parole for the perpetrator.
Chris and Channon were carjacked by multiple assailants, then taken to a house in East Knoxville where they were brutally tortured and raped. Christopher was repeatedly sodomized with a foreign object. He was bound, gagged and blindfolded and then dragged outside and shot, his body was set on fire. Channon was tortured for several hours. She was beaten about the head and raped. Bleach was poured over her body and down her throat to destroy evidence. She was covered with several plastic garbage bags, dumped in a disposal bin, and suffocated to death.
Evidence led to an arrest of several perpetrators: LeMaricus Davidson, Letalvis Cobbins (24), George Thomas (27), Vanessa Coleman (18), and Eric Boyd (34). Vanessa Coleman initially refused to assist law enforcement. She eventually testified at the trial how she assisted in keeping Channon captive, and a part of the diary she kept during the time of the abduction reads, “I’ve had one HELL OF AN ADVENTURE since I’ve been in the big TN. It’s a crazy world these days! But I love the fun adventures and lessons that I’ve learned. Its going to be a long interesting year! Ha! Ha!”
Coleman was indicted on a total of 40 counts: 12 counts of felony murder, 1 count of premeditated murder, 1 count of especially aggravated robbery, 4 counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, 20 counts of aggravated rape, and 2 counts of theft. Vanessa Coleman was sentenced to 53 years in prison. In December 2011 a special judge granted a new trial to Vanessa Coleman. In November 2012, Coleman was convicted a second time (on lesser charges than her initial convictions) and re-sentenced to 35 years in prison.
Now, due to prison overcrowding Coleman will serve only 30% of her sentence before being eligible for a parole hearing. In addition she has been accumulating additional time toward an early release, up to a possible 192 days per year for good behavior. She is set to go before the Parole Board in December 2014.
The friends, family, and supporters of Chris and Channon have created an online petition to deny parole for Vanessa Coleman. In less than two weeks the petition reached over 75,000 signatures. As of August over 200,000 people have signed (more than the number of people living in the city of Knoxville). The list gets longer as the petitioners prepare for the parole hearing.
For more information on the petition, CLICK HERE
Fore more information on the case, click HERE
My website HERE
Photo of J. Yates credit