(WBIR) A judge ruled Wednesday that the prosecution can seek the death penalty against a man accused of murdering four people in Cumberland County.
On Sept. 12, 2013, Rikki Danielle Jacobsen, 22, Steven Presley, 17, Dominic Davis, 17, and John Lajeunesse, 16 were found shot to death inside a car on Renegade Mountain.
Less than two weeks later, a grand jury indicted Jacob Bennett and his girlfriend Brittany Moser in those deaths. The couple is facing four counts of felony murder and two counts of attempted aggravated robbery. Officials said they believe Bennett pulled the trigger; he's facing four additional charges of premeditated murder.
Court documents said the couple attempted to steal marijuana from Jacobsen and Davis, but investigators said there is reason to believe Bennett went to Renegade Mountain with the intention of killing someone.
"I believe it was a robbery gone bad but also with the intention of committing murder," Casey Cox, with the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office, told 10News in September. "He (Bennett) knew the driver of the vehicle (Jacobsen). He had met one of the passengers in the past, but he knew the driver of the vehicle."
Bennett told the judge during his September arraignment that he didn't want a lawyer and tried to immediately plead guilty. On Wednesday, Judge David Patterson threw out Bennett's initial request to plead guilty. Since Bennett didn't have the opportunity to speak with counsel, the judge said the defendant didn't know all of his legal rights and possible outcomes from a guilty plea. During Wednesday's hearing, the judge also ruled that the prosecution can pursue the death penalty.
Brittany Moser also appeared in court, and her hearing was rescheduled for Aug. 13. Her attorneys have filed a request for the court to split her case from Bennett's, but at this time, the court hasn't ruled in that matter.