NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee court officials have been flooded with requests from the public asking the Tennessee Supreme Court to stop the retrials of four defendants convicted in the torture-slayings of a young Knoxville couple.
A special judge this month ordered new trials to be held in the murder case stemming from the deaths of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom, who were carjacked, sexually tortured and killed in 2007, because the presiding judge was intoxicated at the time. Then-Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner was disbarred in October.
Administrative Office of the Courts spokeswoman Laura Click said in a statement the state's high court has received more than 16,000 emails requesting a stop to the retrials.
"We certainly appreciate and understand the public's interest in these cases, however, the Code of Judicial Conduct prevents the Supreme Court or any judge from considering ex parte communications as part of its decision-making process," Click said. "In other words, a judge cannot consider any communications made to the judge without the parties in the case being present."
Click also said the state's judicial conduct code prevents the Supreme Court from commenting on cases that may come before them.
The four were convicted during trials in 2009 and 2010. One of them, Lemaricus Davidson, received the death penalty. Letalvis Cobbins and George Thomas are serving life sentences, and Vanessa Coleman is serving 53 years. All were from Knoxville except Coleman, of Lebanon, Ky.
Baumgartner resigned in March after pleading guilty to official misconduct and admitting that he was addicted to pain pills. He received a two-year suspended sentence.