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Madison County Residents Chosen for Knoxville Murder Jury

By Natalie Potts
By npotts@wbbjtv.com

MADISON COUNTY, Tenn.- Over 500 Madison County residents were summoned to the Criminal Justice Complex for the jury pooling of a Knoxville woman, Friday.

East Tennessee Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood chose jurors for the high profile Knoxville murder trial of Vanessa Coleman. Coleman is charged in the brutal torture killings of Channon Christian, 21 and Chris Newsom, 23. Police said the young couple were carjacked, raped and killed in January of 2007.

"It's a big responsibility to have someones life in your hands," said Resident Rina Cerdieva.

The trial is scheduled in Knoxville and is expected to last at least a week. Residents who were dismissed said the location of the case was an automatic drawback.

"It bothered me some because I was really looking forward to serving on this jury," said William Cole. "I thought I would be here in Madison County."

Blackwood told potential jurors to think carefully before accepting their duty because this case would be difficult. Although many people asked judge Blackwood for a dismissal, several residents remained seated for jury selection despite the distance.

"It really did something to me because it let me know Madison County has a lot of citizens who are willing to serve in whatever capacity that is asked of them," said Cole.

Coleman has already been found guilty of Facilitation of Murder in the death of Christian. Her verdict was thrown out after presiding Judge Richard Baumgartner admitted to a prescription drug addiction.

There were three other suspects who were additionally charged. Officials said the first degree murder charges against Lemaricus Davidson, Letalvis Cobbins and George Thomas were also thrown out. Officials said all three suspects are also expected to have a re-trial.

Late Friday afternoon, officials said the jury selection had been completed along with the selection of four alternates. The panel is a mix of men and women, African African and non-African American.

Sources told WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News the jury will be taken to Knoxville Monday with the trial scheduled to begin Tuesday at 9 a.m.