State's Appeal Denied in Christian/Newsom Case; Accusations Fly from DA's Office

A three-judge panel of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals voted 2-1 on Friday to deny the state Attorney General's Office's application for extraordinary appeal of Special Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood's decision to grant new trials in the slayings of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom. Blackwood ordered new trials for all four defendants in the case, but the state sought to appeal his rulings in only three, conceding there was proof former Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner was impaired during Vanessa Coleman's trial. Appellate judges Alan E. Glenn and Thomas T. Woodall ruled the state fell short in its argument that Blackwood's decision was "fundamentally illegal" or "without legal authority." Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer disagreed with his colleagues, saying he would have granted the emergency appeal. Read more in the News Sentinel

In a March email obtained recently by the News Sentinel under the Tennessee Open Records Act, John Gill, special counsel to District Attorney General Randy Nichols, complained to the state Attorney General's Office about Blackwood, saying he "hates the News Sentinel, and I fear he is playing fast and loose with off the record emails and communications he states are to avoid the newspaper from knowing." Blackwood denied the allegations when asked by the News Sentinel.