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By Jesse Osbourne
Landmark News Service
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.
In 2011, the Tennessee circuit judge who presided over Coleman’s case, 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.