Ky. woman's retrial in torture killings begins

First conviction voided after judge admitted drug use

November 14, 2012 

KNOXVILLE — The retrial of a Kentucky woman in the 2007 torture killing of a young Knoxville woman is under way.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reported that prosecutors laid out a time line Tuesday morning in the slayings of 21-year-old Channon Christian and 23-year-old Christopher Newsom in opening statements at the trial of Vanessa Coleman. Coleman is not charged in Newsom's death.

Coleman, of Lebanon, Ky., was previously convicted of playing a part in the facilitation of crimes against Christian.

Charges against her relating to Newsom's killing had been dropped, and she cannot be retried on them.

Knox County Assistant District Attorney General TaKisha Fitzgerald told jurors the small house where the couple were taken and assaulted was so small that no one could be in the house and not know what was taking place.

Defense attorney Ted Lavit told the jury his client had nothing to do with Christian's slaying and was essentially kept in the house against her will.

Christian and Newsom were taken to the house after they were carjacked.

The state and the defense agreed the retrial of Coleman was necessary after the trial judge acknowledged he was using tranquilizers during the initial trial.

The state is challenging a ruling that three men convicted in the killings must also be retried.

A jury chosen in Madison County is hearing the trial.

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