Sumner County prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty for Westmoreland mass murder suspect Michael Cummins who is accused of violently killing eight people earlier this year.
In a court filing Thursday, Sumner County District Attorney Ray Whitley and Assistant District Attorney Ron Blanton listed four statutory aggravating circumstances that allow prosecutors to seek the death penalty as a result of the “especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel” killings.
“The death penalty should always be reserved for the worst of the worst,” Whitley told the Gallatin News. “This is an appropriate case. We have eight people that have been killed and other crimes committed on top of that.”
The filing came the same day a Sumner County Grand Jury returned a 12-count indictment against the 25-year-old who authorities believe is responsible for the worst homicide event in Tennessee in at least two decades.
Of the victims, six were found inside a home at 1177 Charles Brown Road by a family member on April 27. They include Cummins’ father David Carl Cummins, 51; Cummins’ mother Clara Jane Cummins, 44; Cummins’ uncle Charles Edward Hosale, 45; Rachel Dawn McGlothlin-Pee, 43; her daughter Sapphire McGlothlin-Pee, 12; and Rachel’s mother Marsha Elizabeth Nuckols, 64.
Authorities also found 69-year-old Shriley B. Fehrle dead inside her nearby home at 1555 Luby Brown Road later that day. Investigators say they also believe Cummins is responsible for death of James “Jim” Dunn Jr.,63, who was found dead near his burned cabin on April 17.
All of the victims died from blunt force injuries, according to Dr. Feng Li, chief medical examiner for Davidson County.
Cummins is also charged with the attempted murder of his grandmother Mary Sue Hosale, who was released from the hospital on May 29.
During a May preliminary hearing in Sumner County General Sessions Court, prosecutors argued that Cummins was linked to the murders by a stolen rifle belonging to Dunn that was found at the Charles Brown Road crime scene along with bloody shoe prints and the location of Fehrle’s stolen Kia near where the 25-year-old was eventually located and taken into custody.
The killings took place three months after Cummins was released from jail and placed on probation following attempted aggravated arson and aggravated assault convictions last year.
A Tennessee Department of Corrections spokesperson said earlier this year that Cummins had been in regular contact with his probation officer prior to missing a scheduled check-in April 12. A probation officer had also been unsuccessful in locating him at his home two days earlier.
In May, Cummins admitted to violating his probation by not getting a required mental health evaluation following his release from jail in January. As a result, he was ordered to serve the remainder of his 10-year sentence at 30 percent in prison.
Cummins is scheduled to be arraigned on his new criminal charges in Sumner County Criminal Court on Friday, Aug. 23.