Thursday, April 5, 2012

Judge of 'Knoxville massacre' disbarred over drugs

Knoxville - A Tennessee judge was so addicted to prescription drugs during his final two years on the bench, he was having sex and buying pills during courtroom breaks, including the jury trial of four defendants convicted one of Knoxville's most notorious murders.

Many people didn't realize Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner had a problem until he stepped down from the bench and pleaded guilty in March 2011 to a single count of official misconduct.

He also agreed to disbarment. Judge Baumgartner was heavily addicted to pain pills, including oxycodon and oxycontin due to chronic pancreatitis, a complication of alcoholic addiction.

Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood, who was appointed to hear the former judge's cases, repeatedly cited the sealed investigative file as grounds to overturn the convictions. Blackwood unsealed part of the confidential file because it was relevant to the convictions he threw out. 

According to the file, the judge often traded money for sex as well as drugs which he obtained from people he had previously sentenced for drug convictions obtained in his own court.

He frequently had sex in his chambers during the course of trials, including those of the defendants in the torture slayings of a young couple abducted and murdered after a carjacking. (click here for story)

Prosecutors are appealing Judge Blackwood's decision to overturn the convictions of the four people found guilty for their role in the 2007 killings of a young Knoxville couple. One of those convictions came with a death sentence.

Channon Christian, a 21-year-old University of Tennessee student, and Christopher Newsom, her 23-year-old boyfriend, were kidnapped during a carjacking, sexually tortured and killed.

For Newsom's family, the thought of sitting through more trials is almost unbearable, but they have vowed to continue to seek justice. "We've spent five years of our life up there in court, and basically, as of this date, we have nothing to show for it," said Chris Newsom's father, Hugh Newsom. "They talk about the defendants getting a speedy trial, but I think the victims and the victims' families should get a speedy trial."


  1. I remember seeing this awful crime on the TV years ago. The victims seem like wonderful people who didn't deserve to die so young and in the way they did breaks my heart and makes me sick! If I had my way, the killers would be tortured like their victims, but longer and put to death. My heart goes out to the family and friends

  2. This crime was just do senseless a bunch of ignorant uneducated stupid bastards. To this day I keep telling my children please do not sit in your car and talk. yes i am an African american and it still breaks my heart when i hear this story, color doesn't matter Channon and Christopher where human beings with a family and didn't deserve to die like animals. Nobody does!