SUMNER COUNTY, Tenn. (WTVF) — The high-profile mass murder trial for Michael Cummins is now indefinitely on hold.
Cummins is accused of murdering eight people in Westmoreland in Sumner County in 2019. He was scheduled for two trials — with the first set for April.
Prosecutors will seek the death penalty in this case, but to do that they first have to get Cummins, who is held without bond at Riverbend Maximum Security Prison, to trial. Now there is a very real question as to whether that will ever happen.
"It's not only complex but horrific," Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch said when describing the primary crime scene in the spring of 2019. "Gruesome would be the best adjective to use."
After a brief manhunt, Cummins was arrested and charged with eight murders including his parents and a 12-year-old girl. The only survivor was his grandmother — who recovered from the beating but died this past week of health problems.
The evidence against Cummins is overwhelming: His footprints were found at the crime scene, he was caught with a victim's car and there is DNA.
The district attorney is confident in the case. "Based on all the information we have, we will see that justice is done," said District Attorney Ray Whitley.
The question is: When?
After two years of mental assessments, therapy and anti-psychotic drugs, NewsChannel5 has learned Cummins is still considered incompetent to stand trial.
Under the law, a suspect must be able to talk and assist his lawyers with his defense.
To this point, Cummins cannot.
Some will recall Waffle House shooter Travis Reinking was initially declared unfit, but after six months was deemed competent to stand trial and was convicted earlier this month.
It's now been more than two years for Cummins and still no breakthrough.
He's one of the most dangerous individuals at Riverbend — having tried to set fire to his cell and attempted to attack a guard.
As long as he remains incompetent, Cummins will remain locked up in the supermax cell until the day he's deemed fit to stand trial.
It's rare, but it's entirely possible that a suspect could never be deemed by doctors competent to stand trial.
In such cases, they don't go free. Cummins would remain locked up without bond — indefinitely.