KNOXVILLE, TN (News Sentinel) -- Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary Wade appointed a new judge to helm the cases of three of four defendants in a January 2007 torture-slaying.

Wade tapped Senior Judge Walter Kurtz to take over the cases of Lemaricus Davidson, Letalvis Cobbins and George Thomas. He replaced Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood in those case.

The three were convicted in the slayings of Channon Christian, 21, and Christopher Newsom, 23.

Blackwood, a senior judge himself, ordered up new trials for all four defendants in the case after the judge who presided over those trials, Richard Baumgartner, stepped down amid a drug scandal and before he exercised his role as "13th juror."

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