By Gayle D'Ambrosio Crabtree
This has to be the saddest miscarriage of justice that I have ever seen or heard. My heart goes out to the families. They were robbed of the justice that they rightfully deserved.
Channon Christian and Chris Newsom were carjacked, kidnapped, raped repeatedly and horrendously murdered. Vanessa Coleman is the fourth person to be tried in the spree of evil. Some of the other parties involved received either life without parole or the death penalty. (Read more here.)
Because media saturation about the case was so intense a jury was brought in from Nashville and sequestered. Some in Knoxville were already wary because of feelings that the previous Nashville jury let the families of Channon Christian and Chris Newsom down. It turns out that their concerns may have been warranted. This jury didn't deliver either.
Vanessa Coleman was in the Chipman Street house when Chris Newsom was beaten, raped, bound and set on fire. Whether she may have seen him or not is a matter of lively debate. What is known is that she was in the house while Channon Christian was bound, raped, beaten, sodomized, raped orally and anally. When it was over the monsters who had control of her body stuffed her into several trashbags. Then they threw the still-bound Channon Christian into a trashcan and left her.
At no time did Vanessa Coleman try to get help for Channon. Vanessa claims to have never heard Channon cry out for help or scream. She also claimed that she was afraid of her boyfriend. This was not necessarily backed up by the evidence that was exposed in a journal that Vanessa kept.
An announcement was made early on that Vanessa Coleman would take the stand. Yet, she did not. Many of us in Knoxville were intensely curious as to what she might have to say. Perhaps that is why she decided not to testify on her own behalf?
Knoxville waited while the Nashville jury deliberated. The victims' families held their breath. The parents of Vanessa Coleman waited.
When the verdict was finally read no one was smiling - except Vanessa Coleman. Her smile was as bright as the sun. It should be. She was in the house the night that these horrors happened. She never called for help on any of the several cell phones that were in the house. Yet, in the end, she was only found guilty of facilitation of murder.
Unlike the victims whom she either refused to help (or was unable to help) the life of Vanessa Coleman has been spared. Her sentencing is in July.