Witness: Coleman declined ride away from house

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Associated Press

Posted on November 15, 2012 at 7:01 PM

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A witness at the retrial of a Kentucky woman in a Knoxville torture killing says the accused could have left the house where the killing occurred.

Stacy Lawson told jurors on Thursday that she was leaving the house four days before a young couple were carjacked and killed and she asked Vanessa Coleman if she also wanted to leave and return with her to Lebanon, Ky.

The Knoxville News Sentinel (http://bit.ly/TLR9xa ) reported Lawson testified tension in the small house was building.

"Nobody was working," she said. "Everyone was living off each other."

Lawson said she had been living at the house with Coleman and two other suspects when one of them pointed a rifle at her face. Lawson said she asked Coleman if she wanted a ride and Coleman declined.

"She didn't want to," Lawson said.

Lawson's testimony came on the third day of her retrial. Both the defense and the state agreed to a new trial in the death of Channon Christian, 21, for Coleman after the trial judge acknowledged drug use during the initial trial.

The defense contends Coleman was a virtual prisoner in the house where Christian was killed in January 2007.

Coleman is being tried on 17 facilitation charges in the slaying of Christian, who investigators said was kidnapped, raped, tortured and left to die stuffed into a garbage can. Christian's boyfriend, Christopher Newsom, was also tortured and killed, but Coleman is not charged in crimes against him.

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Information from: The Knoxville News Sentinel, http://www.knoxnews.com

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