New trial underway for county native

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By Jesse Osbourne


A Springfield woman, Vanessa Coleman, faced a new trial last week in Knoxville, Tenn.

Coleman was originally convicted of facilitation charges in connection with the death of Channon Christian in 2007. Coleman was sentenced to 53 years in prison. One member of her defense team was Lebanon attorney Ted Lavit.
Christian’s death was part of a double-homicide case, which included the death of Christopher Newsom. Colemans was not convicted in relation to Newsom’s murder.
In 2011, the Tennessee circuit judge who presided over Coleman and Newsom’s cases, Richard Baumgartner, pled guilty to official misconduct in March. Baumgartner received two years of probation.
Special Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood was appointed to preside over Baumgartner’s case, as well as the cases related to the double-homicide.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation prepared a 1,200-page report about Baumgartner. While issuing his decision about the new trials in connection with the double-homicide, Blackwood released a 155-page redacted version of the TBI report.
The report details Baumgartner’s misconduct, which included abuse of prescription painkillers. According to the report, Baumgartner had prescriptions from multiple doctors, purchased pills from a defendant who appeared before him in drug court, had a sexual relationship with that same defendant (including incidents in his office), and lied about the results of a urine test on behalf of that defendant.
The new trial was still underway as of press deadline on Friday, Nov. 16.
This story contains information previously reported by Stephen Lega at The Lebanon Enterprise.