Jury convicts Kentucky man in torture murders

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A jury has sentenced a Kentucky man to life in prison with the possibility of parole for the brutal murders of a couple who were kidnapped during a carjacking in Knoxville. Under the terms, 30-year-old George Thomas will still have to spend 51 years in prison before being eligible for parole.

Earlier Friday, that same jury convicted Thomas of felony murder, aggravated rape and numerous other charges in the 2007 kidnappings and killings of 21-year-old Channon Christian and 23-year-old Chris Newsom. Both were sexually tortured before they were murdered. The case is considered to among the most brutal ever in Knox County.

Thomas was one of four said to be involved in the murders. His case had to be retried because the original judge abused prescription drugs while on the bench.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

A Kentucky man who was retried on murder charges was convicted Friday for his role in the torture and murder of a Knoxville couple in a case that has been described as one of the most heinous crimes in history of Knox County.

The Knoxville News Sentinel ( is reporting that jurors deliberated for about seven hours over two days before finding George Thomas guilty of felony murder, aggravated rape, robbery and numerous other charges on Friday. Thomas, of Lebanon, Ky., was found guilty on all 46 charges that he faced. It's the second time that Thomas has been convicted. The case had to be retried after authorities discovered that the judge in the original case was a prescription drug addict who was abusing pills while on the bench.

New trials were ordered for Thomas and one other defendant, who has since been reconvicted.

The case has received so much notoriety and publicity that jurors from Nashville were asked to come in to hear the case. Thomas was accused of playing a role in the January 2007 kidnappings and killings of Channon Christian, 21, and Chris Newsom, 23. The couple were kidnapped in a carjacking, and both were sexually tortured and murdered. Thomas is one of three co-defendants accused of playing a role in the murders.

The ringleader, Lemaricus Davidson, has been sentenced to die.

Throughout both trials, Thomas maintained that he was at the Davidson's Knoxville home and saw the couple there but played no role in their deaths. Thomas told investigators after his January 2007 arrest that he left Davidson's house after seeing a bound and blindfolded Newsome being led out and Christian, who was also bound, being forced into a bedroom. He maintained they were both gone when he returned the next day.

On Friday, jurors were deciding whether Thomas should serve life in prison without the possibility of parole.


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