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Tenn. Supreme Court kicks back judge's ruling to throw out Knox torture-slaying convictions

Staff Report • May 25, 2012 at 9:33 AM

The Tennessee Supreme Court halted Thursday a judge's decision to throw out convictions in the Christian-Newsom killings, turning back his ruling that the trial judge's conduct outside court was so bad that it affected the verdicts and also directing him to take a closer look at his own ability to serve as an independent, "13th juror."

Special Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood in December ruled that 2009 and 2010 convictions for Lemaricus Davidson, Letalvis Cobbins, George Thomas and Vanessa Coleman had to be tossed. The four were convicted for their roles in the carjackings and killings in January 2007 of Chris Newsom, 23, and Channon Christian, 21.

In reaching his decision, Blackwood found that Judge Richard Baumgartner behaved with such gross misconduct during the time when the defendants were prosecuted that their trials were structurally flawed.

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