GALLATIN, Tenn. (WKRN) — Testimony on Thursday gave us a look into the mind of the man behind one of Tennessee’s deadliest mass killings. Michael Cummins faces charges for eight brutal murders in Westmoreland in April 2019.
On Thursday, Jan. 19, Cummins was in court for two motions hearings. The first motion was to dismiss the entire district attorney’s office from the case after learning one of the lead prosecutors, Eric Mauldin, previously represented Cummins. The judge ultimately denied that motion.
However, the majority of the day was spent analyzing Cummins’ mental state as prosecutors seek the death penalty in this case. While a number of mental evaluations have determined Cummins is fit to stand trial, the question still remains as to if Cummins is convicted is he competent enough to be executed.
Thursday, Dr. Mary Elizabeth Wood, considered an expert in intellectual disability, described behavior and academic troubles from Cummins’ childhood and then psychiatric concerns — including paranoia, depression and suicide attempts.
Cummins was seen in court continuously rocking, moving and often shaking. Wood said he has Stereotypic Movement Disorder — a disorder that is included in his evaluations to see if he meets the criteria for intellectual disability.
Wood took a deep dive into Cummins’ life, including DCS records that she says reflect a history of negligence and deprivation.
“There was concerns about him and his sister — multiple lice, infections, infestations, sort of. The home didn’t have electricity or running water. At times, there were occasions where there wasn’t a front door, there weren’t doors on the inside of the home,” Wood explained. “There were allegations of abuse that were made at various times, there were allegations that the father may have been drinking excessively and may have been giving the children beer. There was one allegation I saw about methamphetamine being manufactured in the home. I don’t think that was founded or investigated, but these records really document these concerns over time about what is happening in the home environment.”
The witness testimony is vital in determining if Cummins is fit for execution.
Cross-examination will continue Friday, Jan. 20, with the defense planning to call one more witness.
The trial is set to begin in April.