SUMNER COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – Michael Cummins, the suspect in the 2019 Sumner County slayings, appeared in court Friday morning as attorneys discussed ground rules for his upcoming trial.
Cummins is accused of killing eight people in Westmoreland back in April 2019; his trial has been set for 2022, but some key points were made during Friday morning’s appearance.
Shackled and handcuffed, a disheveled-looking Cummins listened, mostly with his head down, as the judge ran through several motions. His appearance in court marked the first time in nearly two years News 2 has seen the man behind one of Tennessee’s deadliest homicide cases.
Cummins currently faces 12 charges for the eight murders, including his parents, uncle and a child. The victims were found at several different crime scenes; investigators described them as among the most gruesome they have ever seen.
A key witness in the case is the sole survivor, Cummins’s grandmother. Mary Hosale was found at the time brutally beaten and in critical condition, with severe injuries to her skull. A detective testified previously that Hosale couldn’t remember things of the particular incident. However, earlier this month, Hosale gave a recorded deposition which is under seal.
“We had a deposition to preserve her testimony. Obviously she was injured, very severely and she’s an older person and we want to make sure her testimony will be available when the case comes up. If she is available and can testify, she will be called as a witness and if for some reason she isn’t available and unable to testify, we can use the deposition,” District Attorney General Ray Whitley told News 2.
Three family members attended Friday’s motions hearing, the first of four scheduled motions hearings. The defense asked for advance notice if the prosecution plans to present certain evidence. It was also decided that the jury will be sequestered.
General Whitley told News 2 this case is just getting started with a long road ahead.
“This is going to be a long, long process. It’s more than a trial; it’s really a campaign of trying to get to trial to try this case, because there is interest on both sides of the case. Obviously, it’s a death penalty case and the prosecution [says] it’s a death penalty case, so there’s a lot to be done before we get to trial so I would think we are on a campaign to do that,” he said.
The state is seeking the death penalty when the trial starts in April 2022.