KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — 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 the history of Knox County.
The Knoxville News Sentinel (http://goo.gl/0YFQ6 ) reported 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. The jury later sentenced Thomas to serve life in prison with the possibility of parole. Under the terms, Thomas, 30, will have to serve 51 years in prison before being eligible for parole.
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 wasn't the only one accused of playing a role in the January 2007 kidnappings and killings of Channon Christian, 21, and Chris Newsom, 23. The couple was kidnapped in a carjacking, and both were sexually tortured and murdered. Thomas and three others are said to have played 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.
Information from: Knoxville News Sentinel, http://www.knoxnews.com