Jamie Satterfield, Knoxville News Sentinel, December 10, 2009
There were no celebrations Thursday as a Hamilton County jury announced the fate of convicted killer George Thomas.
Instead, an air of resignation and regret-tinged relief hung in Knox County Criminal Court as the jury foreman declared the panel’s decision to spare the life of Thomas, 26, but order him to stay forever behind bars.
“We can’t help but be greedy,” Christian’s mother, Deena Christian, said of the families’ disappointment that, so far, only convicted ringleader Lemaricus Davidson has rated a death sentence for a fatal January 2007 crime spree.
After the verdict, authorities transported Thomas to the Charles Bass Correctional Complex in Nashville, said Dorinda Carter, spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Correction. Bass is an intake center for new inmates, where Thomas will be evaluated perhaps over 30 to 60 days to decide where he should serve out his life sentence, Carter said.
Like Thomas, Davidson’s brother, Letalvis Cobbins, also has been sentenced to life without parole.
A fourth defendant, Vanessa Coleman, faces trial in May. A fifth suspect, Eric Boyd, is serving an 18-year prison term for hiding out Davidson after the slayings, but he remains uncharged in the couple’s deaths.
Chris Newsom’s mother noted Thursday that Cobbins, who has remained close friends with Thomas while the pair were jailed pending trial, claimed Thomas accompanied Davidson and Boyd when her son was being led to his execution, and Coleman also implicated Thomas. Jurors, however, are not allowed under the rules of criminal procedure to hear one suspect’s statement against another.
“We know there’s more things that he did that the jury was not allowed to hear . . . so I’m a little disappointed,” she said of the sentencing decision.
Still on the table is a defense motion challenging the sufficiency of the evidence against Thomas. Baumgartner said Thursday he would issue a written ruling on that motion in late January or early February.