KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Lebanon, Ky., woman once again found guilty in a second torture-slaying trial will likely have a lighter sentence than the one she received after her first conviction.
The Knoxville News Sentinel (http://bit.ly/QuFgz9 ) reports a jury on Tuesday convicted Vanessa Coleman of facilitation in the 2007 murder of 21-year-old Channon Christian but found her guilty of lesser charges in connection with the kidnapping and repeated rapes of Christian prior to her suffocation inside a trash can.
That means Coleman, who has already served six years, faces less time than the 53 years she was given after her first trial in 2010.
In that trial, Coleman was acquitted of any crimes committed against Christian's boyfriend, 23-year-old Christopher Newsom, who was raped and shot and his body set on fire.
Defense attorney Ted Lavit said Coleman was "relieved" at the prospect of a lesser sentence, which could now be between 15 and 40 years.
The main debate in Coleman's second trial focused on whether she provided substantial assistance to the three men convicted in the actual crimes — alleged ringleader Lemaricus Davidson; his brother and Coleman's boyfriend, Letalvis Cobbins; and Cobbins' friend, George Thomas.
A retrial was ordered for Coleman and the other defendants after the trial judge acknowledged drug use during original proceedings.
In the second trial, Coleman's attorneys argued she was a hostage of the trio and did nothing to facilitate the crimes committed against Christian. Prosecutors insisted Coleman kept guard over Christian while the male defendants forced Newsom to his death alongside railroad tracks near Davidson's house.
The state charged Coleman with facilitation of especially aggravated kidnapping, which involves the infliction of serious bodily injury and carries a much tougher penalty range, and facilitation of aggravated rape, which involves similar infliction and also carries a tougher prison term.
The jury settled on facilitation of aggravated kidnapping, a lesser charge, and facilitation of rape, also a lesser charge. Both carry lesser sentences upon conviction.
Christian's parents, Deena and Gary Christian, were disappointed at the prospect of a shorter sentence for Coleman but said they're glad she wasn't acquitted.
"These guys all deserve more than they're getting," Gary Christian said of all four defendants.
Information from: The Knoxville News Sentinel, http://www.knoxnews.com