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East Tenn. Judge Forced Off Notorious Murder Case

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A state appeals court removed a senior judge from presiding over a notorious East Tennessee murder case because of questions about his impartiality.

The Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee in Knoxville has approved a request by state prosecutors to recuse Jon Kerry Blackwood from the retrials of three men stemming from the January 2007 slayings of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom.

Reporter Jamie Satterfield has been following the case for the Knoxville News Sentinel. She says the appeals court opined that Judge Blackwood’s relationship with state prosecutors had become so strained a new judge should hear the cases.

“He and the District Attorney, Randy Nichols, actually had a bit of a shouting match. And so the Appellate Court said even though he is trying to be fair, that that incident gives the appearance that he is biased against the state."

Satterfield says Blackwood will be allowed to preside over the retrial of a fourth defendant in the Christian - Newsom murders.

Blackwood has also ordered retrials in a half-dozen other cases, all of which were originally presided over by a judge removed from the bench because of an addiction to prescription pain killers.