Newsom Memorial Draws Loved Ones, Strangers Alike

Hayes Hickman, Knox News, January 6, 2013

Now six years on, Hugh and Mary Newsom have yet to find justice for their son.

As they faced yet another anniversary of his death Sunday, though, loved ones and strangers alike gathered around the couple to help bring them, perhaps, a moment’s peace.

Christopher Newsom, 23, and his girlfriend, Channon Christian, 21, were kidnapped while out on a date, then tortured, raped and killed.

The horrendous crimes continue to dominate the lives of both the Newsom and Christian families—and hold the attention of the larger community. Four suspects were convicted in connection with the January 2007 slayings, only to have the verdicts thrown into question when the judge who presided over the trials, Richard Baumgartner, later pleaded guilty to misconduct in a prescription painkiller scandal.

In appreciation of the community’s ongoing support, the Newsoms chose to invite the public to this year’s graveside memorial service Sunday. In response, more than 100 attendees came to pay their respects at Woodhaven Memorial Gardens in Powell.

“It’s humbling to have everybody out here to honor Chris and to honor us and be here to share this day with us,” said Mary Newsom. “It means an awful lot.”

Gary and Deena Christian, who also attended the service, similarly have invited the public to attend a memorial in remembrance of their daughter at 5:30 p.m. today at Highland West Memorial Park, 9913 Sherrill Blvd.

Halls residents Frank and Karen Orick had never met either family, but felt compelled to pay their respects Sunday.

“We just felt it was our duty as a community to support them, because they need all the support they can get,” said Karen Orick. “It’s really affected us, just thinking, ‘What if that was our child?’ “

On Thursday, Senior Judge Walter Kurtz is set to consider a motion for retrial for Lemaricus Davidson, the accused ringleader in the slayings.

The Newsoms said that Sunday’s turnout gave them a renewed strength to face the next hearing, which they noted it will be the 291st court date the victims’ families have attended.

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They also remembered the minute details of Christopher Newsom’s final day, which began with a round of golf.

“Six years ago today, he finished the golf game, came by the house, took a shower, put on his favorite blue sweater, came downstairs. … There was big smile on his face and he said, ‘I’ve got a date with Channon,’ ” Hugh Newsom said. “We never dreamed that that was the last time we would ever see Chris.”

[Editor’s Note: See here for AR’s feature article on the Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom murders.]

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