Tuesday, November 27, 2012

November 27, 2012 Morristown City Council

Pictured above is the Morristown City Council.  Dennis Alvis was recently appointed to temporarily fill the 4th ward seat of longtime councilmember Claude Jinks. Alvis will hold the seat until May 2013 when the two years remaining on Jinks' term will be filled during the regular city council election.

[Most observers expect Alvis to be a candidate for the seat in the May 2013 election.]

From left-to-right are Bob Garrett, Gene Brooks, Dennis Alvis, Kay Senter, Paul LeBel, Mayor Danny Thomas, and Chris Bivens.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

November 24, 2012 Jail Study Committee Videos

The Hamblen County Jail Study Committee heard a one-hour presentation by representatives from Tennessee Corrections Institute (TCI) and County Technical Assistance Services (CTAS) on November 14. The presentation is broken down into segments in this series of videos. For a summary of the TCI and CTAS recommendation, see the 15-second video here.                                              

Thursday, November 22, 2012

November 22, 2012 HAPPY THANKSGIVING

new thanking day images

May this be a day of thanksgiving, gratitude, and joy for you, your family, and our country.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

November 21, 2012 Coleman Guilty of Most Charges in a Compromise Verdict

The retrial of Vanessa Coleman ended yesterday with what is being termed a compromise verdict. Coleman was charged with 17 counts of facilitation of crimes against Channon Christian during the kidnapping, rape, and murder of Christian in 2007.

In the verdict, Coleman was convicted on some of the counts, such as facilitation of the felony murder of Christian, while the jury returned guilty verdicts on "lesser charges" in connection with other counts and found Coleman not guilty on four counts.

Due to the extensive publicity surrounding the case, Coleman was tried in Knox County before a jury brought in from Jackson TN (Madison County).

Christian and her boyfriend Chris Newsom were kidnapped, raped, and murdered in 2007. Lemaricus Davidson, George Thomas, and Coleman's boyfriend Letalvis Cobbins have previously been convicted on various counts in connection with what started as a carjacking and quickly turned into a brutal and gruesome chain of events culminating in the execution-style shooting of Newsom and the murder of Christian by suffocation when she was tied and stuffed into a garbage can.

The New-Sentinel report is here.

Davidson, Thomas, and Cobbins are seeking retrials. Recently, Cobbins' request for a new lawyer and complaints about his treatment in prison were rebuffed by Judge Walter Kurtz during a hearing in Knox Criminal Court. The News-Sentinel report is here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

November 20, 2012 Coleman Re-trial: Defense Calls Parents To Testify, Closing Arguments, Deliberations

The Knoxville re-trial of Vanessa Coleman on 17 counts of facilitation of kidnapping, rape, and murder of Channon Christian is in the hands of a jury.

Yesterday, the defense presented its case, calling two witnesses to the stand--Vanessa's parents. Vanessa chose not to testify.

The prosecution and defense presented closing arguments, and the case went to the jury that was brought in from Jackson, TN (Madison County).

After several hours of deliberation, the jury retired for the night and will resume deliberations this morning.

The News-Sentinel has a running commentary on yesterday's testimony and closing here and a news article here.

Monday, November 19, 2012

November 19, 2012 Coleman Trial: Defense Begins Today

The prosecution in the re-trial of Vanessa Coleman rested its case last week.

Today, the defense begins its presentation.

Coleman is accused of multiple counts of facilitation of crimes against Channon Christian during the brutal kidnapping, rape, and murder of Christian in 2007. Coleman's initial convictions in 2010 were tossed out and a re-trial ordered due to drug use and the impairment of Judge Richard Baumgartner in Coleman's first trial.

The prosecution wrapped up its case on Thursday and Friday last week. News-Sentinel coverage and updates are here, here, here,  here, and here.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

November 15, 2012 CCP to Jail Study Committee: A New Facility Is Needed

The Jail Study Committee met yesterday at 5 PM at the M-H Library Community Room. Representatives of TCI (Tennessee Corrections Institute) and CTAS (County Technical Assistance Services) were present.

I will post more videos of the hour-long presentation later, but the 15-second video below sums up the presentation by the TCI representative.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

November 14, 2012 Vanessa Coleman Retrial in Second Day

As a result of the fallout from the admission of drug use and misconduct by Judge Richard Baumgartner, the retrial of Vanessa Coleman is taking place in Knox County with a Madison County (Jackson, TN) jury and Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood presiding.

Coleman was initially convicted in 2010 of facilitation of crimes in the kidnapping, rape, and murder of Channon Christian in Knoxville in 2007.

Day One coverage, November 13, 2012, by Jamie Satterfield of the Knox News-Sentinel is here.

Day Two coverage is here and is updated through the day.

For previous blog posts on Baumgartner, click here.

Monday, November 12, 2012

November 12, 2012 Hamblen Public Services Committee Approves Rezoning, Rejects Morristown Regional Planning Commission Recommendation


The Hamblen County Commission Public Services Committee met last Monday after the Jail Study and Finance Committees.
The main topic was a request to rezone property on Noe's Chapel Road from agricultural to commercial.  The Owner was present and stated that he intends to work on and rebuild old cars in a car restoration business.
Although the land is in the county, it is also in the city's "urban growth area"---an area previously designated for possible "growth" and future annexation by the City.
As part of the city's urban growth area, the Morristown Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) heard the rezoning request first and recommended that the rezoning be denied by the county commission which had the final say.
At the start of the meeting, Public Services Chairman Herbert Harville made a motion to accept the MRPC's recommendation and deny the rezoning. Harville's motion did not receive a second, and extended discussion began.
According to the owner, the MRPC denied the request over concerns about traffic.
The owner pointed out that the property had previously been the site of a home-based plumbing business (Kilgore Plumbing) with numerous employees coming in an out. He added that traffic for his proposed car restoration business would be minimal since he expects to be working on only about four or five cars at any one time.
He added that the cars would be kept inside a building.
Commissioner Nancy Phillips made the motion to recommend that the full commission rezone the property. Commissioner Howard Shipley seconded the motion, and it passed unanimously out of the Committee. The rezoning will be voted on by the full Commission this Thursday, November 15.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

November 11, 2012 Veterans Day

American owe a special debt to veterans of all branches of the armed forces. Our freedom has been bought and maintained with their sweat, blood, and devotion to duty.

Many have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Freedom isn't free.

Links to the words and patriotic music associated with the following branches of the armed forces can be heard by clicking on each link below:

Army: As Those Caissons Go Rolling Along
Navy: Anchors Aweigh
Marine: Marine Hymn
Air Force: Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder
Coast Guard: Semper Paratus

To all who have served in the past and to all who serve today...Thank you for your service and may God bless you and your families.

Monday, November 05, 2012

November 5, 2012 Trees


At the mid-point of the fall season, there are beautiful trees with colorful leaves all around  Enjoy the gorgeous colors.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

November 3, 2012 GUILTY: Jury Convicts Baumgartner on Five Felony Counts

Ex-Knox Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner was convicted in federal court in Knoxville yesterday on five felony counts for lying about his pill-supplying mistress (Deena Castleman) to two judges, a Knox County child support referee, a state prosecutor, and a transitional housing director in order to cover up a drug-trafficking conspiracy involving Castleman.

Castleman was a graduate of the Drug Court that Baumgartner founded. She testified during the early part of the trial that she was using drugs again, fell on hard times, and came to see "Judge B," as she called him, for help in May 2009.

She said that "Judge B" admitted his own use of opiates at that meeting and asked her if she could help get them for him. She agreed. A drug and sexual liaison between Baumgartner and Castleman ensued. According to prosecutors and other trial testimony, Baumgartner subsequently lied to various officials to help Castleman.

Prosecutors maintained that Baumgartner lied to cover-up a drug trafficking conspiracy to keep the drugs and sex flowing. Defense attorneys said the lies, if any, were simply out of concern and affection for Castleman.

A recent News-Sentinel article is here,

Baumgartner's sentencing is set for March 27, 2013. He faces up to three years in prison on each count, and up to a $250,000 fine on each count.  Significantly, the federal felony convictions may result in a loss of Baumgartner's $4900/month state pension--- a pension that was spared when Baumgartner resigned from the bench in 2011 and later reached a plea deal with a special prosecutor in a prior state action. For more, click here and here.

Baumgartner presided over many high-profile Knox County cases--including the Christian-Newsom kidnapping, rape, and torture trials. New trials against the defendants in those cases have been ordered in the fallout over Baumgartner's pill use and actions.

More from the News-Sentinel is here.

Friday, November 02, 2012

November 2, 2012 Baumgartner Jury Asks Questions, Continues Deliberations

The jury that will determine the fate of ex-Knox County Criminal Judge Richard Baumgartner emerged yesterday to ask questions of District Judge Ronnie Greer.

One felony count against Baumgartner was tossed by Judge Greer.

The jury is considering the remaining six felony counts in which Baumgartner is charged with lying to judges, a prosecutor, nurses, and others in order to cover up a drug-trafficking conspiracy involving his pill-supplying mistress Deena Castleman.

First, the jurors asked what they should do if some of the panel believe that the prosecution has proven all of the elements of the crimes and others do not. Greer informed the jury that their decision must be unanimous.

Later, the jury told Judge Greer that they had reached unanimous verdicts on some counts but not others. At that point, Greer gave the jury two instructions. Reconsider and try to reach unanimity, or issue a partial verdict on some counts and resume deliberations on others.

The panel resumed deliberations and then went home for the day. Jamie Satterfield has the News-Sentinel report here.

This morning the jury will continue deliberations. Click here.