Prosecutors to seek death penalty for suspect in quadruple murder

(WBIR-Crossville) Prosecutors will seek the death penalty for a man charged with killing four people in Cumberland County over a botched pot deal.

26-year-old Jacob Bennett 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 September 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 someo

ne that night.

At a hearing in September, Bennett said he could not afford an attorney and wanted to enter 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 non-guilty plea.

Family members said they know the upcoming court proceedings will be long and arduous.

"It's hard to just sit there - very hard to just sit there," said Steven Presley's aunt, JoAnne Cole. "You're going through the most traumatic thing any of us have ever experienced together and it's hard not to get close to each other -- somebody that understands where you're at and what you're going through."

The state also filed their intentions to seek the death penalty against Bennett.

Moser also entered a non-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 for November 18.

Friends and family member of the victims were in the court room 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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