published Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Judge removed from Knoxville couple’s murder case

KNOXVILLE — A state appeals court removed a senior judge from presiding over the cases of three men accused of slaying a Knoxville couple because of questions about his impartiality.

The Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee in Knoxville on Thursday approved a request by state prosecutors to recuse Jon Kerry Blackwood from the murder trials stemming from the January 2007 slayings of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom.

The appeals court also said a stay preventing the retrials of the three men would remain in effect.

Blackwood was appointed to the case after the original trial judge, former Knoxville criminal court judge Richard Baumgartner, resigned because he had a prescription drug addiction.

Meanwhile, a trial began Thursday in Knoxville for Baumgartner on charges that he lied to cover up a drug conspiracy.

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