WESTMORELAND, Tenn. (WTVF) — Michael Cummins, an accused mass murderer in Sumner County, has now been cleared to stand trial.
Cummins is charged with the murders of eight people in April of 2019. Six bodies were found in a Westmoreland home and two more were at another location.
"It's not only complex, but horrific," said Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rauch at the time.
Those dead included Cummins' own parents, an uncle and a child. His grandmother Mary Hosale survived the attack.
"It's not every day the prosecution gets a witness who can point out the person who committed the crime or assault that person," said NewsChannel 5 legal analyst Nick Leonardo.
His grandmother has since died, but prosecutors had the forethought to record her testimony, and that video will be used at trial.
The physical evidence against him is overwhelming: Cummins' footprints were found at the scene and he was caught with a victim's car.
"Based on all the information we have, we will see that justice is done," said District Attorney Ray Whitley in 2019.
Cummins' trials have been rescheduled over the years as he underwent mental evaluations to determine his fitness for trial. They also faced delays due to COVID-19.
NewsChannel 5 has learned his latest mental evaluation is complete and he is considered fit to stand trial. He's set for two separate trials, with this first not scheduled until April of next year.
Cummins' defense team asked for three separate trials, while the district attorney wanted to try the cases altogether. Judge Dee Gay ruled that seven victims are connected, and one other is not.
Whitley said he will seek the death penalty. However, it may not be an option.
Prosecutors in Sumner County say this is a capital case, but there will be a hearing to determine whether Cummins — if convicted — can even be executed.
Yes, it's possible he's competent to stand trial, but that he is so profoundly disturbed with a low IQ that he can't be legally put to death for his crimes in Tennessee. In which case, Cummins would face life in prison without parole.
A hearing to determine whether it can be a death penalty case is set for this fall.
Legal experts have said his best and only option will be to seek the insanity defense.