Prosecutors will seek the death penalty for a man charged with killing four people in Cumberland County, Tenn., over a botched marijuana deal.
Jacob Bennett, 26, and his girlfriend, 25-year-old Brittany Moser, pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and attempted robbery in court on Thursday morning. Both defendants were in court, but they appeared separately.
As the accused trigger-man, Bennett also faces four additional charges of premeditated murder.
The four victims were found in a car parked on Renegade Mountain on Sept. 12. Authorities said the two suspects attempted to rob victims Rikki Jacobsen, 22, and Domonic Davis, 17, of marijuana. Two others in the car, 17-year-old Steve Presley, and 16-year-old John Lajeunesse were also shot to death inside the vehicle. Prosecutors called it a “robbery gone bad,” but also said they thought Bennett intended to kill someone that night.
At a hearing in September, Bennett said he could not afford an attorney and entered a guilty plea. However, the judge decided to appoint an attorney for Bennett, and continue the arraignment after he had legal counsel. Thursday, with his court-appointed attorney at his side, Bennett entered a not-guilty plea.
The state also filed their intentions to seek the death penalty against Bennett.
Moser also entered a not-guilty plea. At her previous hearing, she claimed she didn’t murder or rob anyone, but prosecutors contend that she was there when the crimes took place, and had some part in it that would be elaborated on in future hearings.
Both Bennett and Moser are being held without bond. Their next court appearance is scheduled Nov. 18.
Friends and family member of the victims were in the courtroom Thursday morning. Those closest to victim John Lajeunesse were easy to spot. They were wearing tie-dyed ribbons in his honor, because he loved the pattern.
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