GALLATIN, TN (WSMV) - A Sumner County man accused of killing eight people in April 2019 will have two trials after a Sumner County judge decided to hear two of the 12-count indictment separately.
Criminal Court Judge Dee David Gray said in an order released Friday that Michael Lee Cummins would face a separate trial in the death of James Foxx Dunn and theft of a rifle from Dunn.
Friday, Michael Cummins, the man accused of the deadliest mass murder in Tennessee history, appeared in a Sumner County courtroom. Cummins is accused of killing eight people in Westmoreland back in 2019, including his parents and 12-year-old.
Cummins will go to trial in April 2022 in the deaths of Shirley B. Fehrle, David Carl Cummins, Clara Jane Cummins, Charles Edward Hosale, Marsha Elizabeth Nuckols, Rachel McGlothlin-Pee and Sapphire McGlothlin-Pee and attempted murder of Mary Sue Hosale.
Gray wrote in the order that the counts involving Dunn would be tried in a separate trial:
“The Court finds that counts 1 through 12 of this indictment have been permissibly joined, as they are part of a common scheme or plan, or they are of the same or similar character. Further, this Court finds that the evidence from counts 3 through 5 from the Fehrle residence would be relevant and admissible to material issues at the trial for counts 6 through 12 at the Hosale residence, and that evidence from the Hosale residence offenses would be relevant and admissible to material issues in the Fehrle residence offenses as well, for the reasons stated above. Lastly the Court finds the probative value of the evidence of each set of offenses is not outweighed by any prejudicial effect of the evidence of the other offenses to be introduced at a joint trial.”
Cummins’ attorneys argued in court in July that the cases should be separated into three separate trials while the state argued that all the cases should remain joined.
“Because these cases are not connected through common scheme or plan, the signature crimes, anything along those lines, the court has to sever these into three different cases,” the defense argued.
“All these crimes were committed to cover up a theft,” the prosecution argued. “We’re talking about a close proximity of time and they were all committed in the same violent manner.”
Cummins was charged with first degree premeditated murder of Dunn and theft over $1,000 of Dunn’s rifle around April 17, 2019, from Dunn’s home on Ransom Mandrell Road. Dunn’s body was found around 75 yards away in a briar thicket without his head. The cause of death was blunt and sharp force trauma. The state indicated there was no evidence of the head being severed by any human act.
On April 27, 2019, Fehrle was found dead inside her home. Fehrle died of multiple blunt force injuries. The death appeared to have occurred two days earlier on April 25. Cummins is accused of killing Fehrle and then taking her black Kia.
Also on April 27, 2019, authorities found six bodies inside a trailer on Charles Brown Road belonging to Mary Sue Hosale, Cummins’ grandmother. Bodies were in several rooms inside the trailer, all sustaining blunt force trauma. Mary Sue Hosale was taken to the hospital where she later recovered. Dunn’s rifle was found in the Hosale trailer, according to court documents.
Cummins was indicted on the following charges:
- Count 1: First degree premeditated murder of James Foxx Dunn
- Count 2: Theft of a rifle over $1,000 belonging to Dunn
- Count 3: First degree premeditated murder of Shirley B. Fehrle
- Count 4: Felony murder during a theft of Fehrle
- Count 5: Theft of a vehicle valued over $10,000 belonging to Fehrle
- Count 6: First degree premediated murder of David Carl Cummins, Michael Cummins’ father
- Count 7: First degree premeditated murder of Clara Jane Cummins, Michael Cummins’ mother
- Count 8: First degree premeditated murder of Charles Edward Hosale, Michael Cummins’ uncle
- Count 9: First degree premeditated murder of Marsha Elizabeth Nuckols, Rachel McGlothlin-Pee’s mother
- Count 10: First degree premeditated murder of Rachel McGlothlin-Pee, Charles Hosale’s girlfriend
- Count 11: First degree premeditated murder of Sapphire McGlothlin-Pee, Rachel McGlothlin-Pee’s daughter and Nuckols’ granddaughter
- Count 12: Attempted first degree premeditated murder of Mary Sue Hosale, Michael Cummins’ grandmother