Death penalty still on table in Cumberland County quadruple murd

Death penalty still on table in Cumberland County quadruple murder case

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Defense attorneys argued once again Wednesday to have the death penalty thrown out in Jacob Bennett's first degree murder case. Defense attorneys argued once again Wednesday to have the death penalty thrown out in Jacob Bennett's first degree murder case.
Co-defendant Brittany Moser made a brief appearance. Co-defendant Brittany Moser made a brief appearance.
By DREW GARDNER
6 News Reporter

CROSSVILLE (WATE) - A judge again Wednesday denied a request to throw out the death penalty for one of the suspects accused of killing four people in Cumberland County.

Jacob Bennett and his girlfriend Brittany Moser are both accused in the deaths. Domonic Davis, John Lajeunesse, Rikki Jacobsen, and Steven Presley were found shot to death inside a car near Crab Orchard last September.

Previous story: 4 people found dead in Cumberland Co. car

Defense attorneys argued once again Wednesday to have the death penalty thrown out in Bennett's first degree murder case. This time they argued that the defense did not file the notice to seek the death penalty within thirty days of the arraignment as required by law.
 
"If he had entered the plea by statute, he would be guilty of the first degree murder and it would keep us by law from filing the enhanced punishment, meaning that what he would be facing now would be four life sentences. Not life without parole. Not death penalty. Just what we would call regular life sentences," argued Deputy District Attorney Gary McKenzie.

Previous story: State seeks death penalty for Cumberland County quadruple murder suspect

Judge David Patterson ruled that the initial guilty plea was not properly entered or accepted by the court and therefore was not valid.

"What it means going forward is, and what the judge put on the record was, that it was not a knowing and voluntary plea and that it did not happen and because of that, we can file the death penalty notice and we could proceed forward," said McKenzie.    

The state says the judge's decision will not affect its case.

"We're moving forward with this litigation, and we have another hearing scheduled on August 13, and at that time we are going to be asking the judge for a trial date. So we are moving full speed ahead on this case," said District Attorney General Randy York.
     
Co-defendant Brittany Moser made a brief appearance. Defense attorneys filed a motion for the case to be severed so both defendants would be tried separately. That will be heard at a later date.  

The next hearing is set for August 13. Bennett has requested that he not be present at the hearing, and the judge approved.   
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