Facebook impacting jury selection in Knox County trial


As if we needed any more proof that social media is becoming increasingly prevalent in our society, here in Knox County social media became an obstacle in the jury selection for a 2007 torture slaying. This jury will serve in the trial of the alleged ringleader in the carjacking, torture, rape and slayings of University of Tennessee student Channon Christian, 21, and her boyfriend, 23-year-old Christopher Newsom.

A potential juror, a 20-something female who was in the final stages of the selection process, found herself at the heart of what the Knoxville News Sentinel called ‘a Facebook scandal.’

The potential juror admitted to visiting a group page honoring Christian but insisted she did not join the group. Attorney Doug Trant, co-counsel for the suspect, said he had a printout of the group’s membership list that would prove she joined.

Although Judge Richard Baumgartner admitted he didn’t know anything about Facebook, Trant had a staffer on hand to share information about the site.

After prosecutor Leland Price gave the woman a chance to explain, she again denied membership. Trant then held up his printout, and she said she was automatically made a member when she visited the site, but had removed herself from the group and was not a member.

Trant was prepared to prove that the site did not feature automatic membership, so Price moved to spare the woman from further public scrutiny and agreed to remove her from the jury pool.

The trial is set for Oct. 19.

For more information, read this article from the Knoxville News Sentinel.

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