By Michael R. Moser
Even as search warrants were being obtained and a small army of volunteers were conducting searches around the crime scene, a special session of the Cumberland County Grand Jury was being scheduled for today to hear evidence in the county's first quadruple homicide.
Four persons — three teenagers and a young female adult — were found shot to death last Thursday in their car parked on a cul de sac in an undeveloped subdivision off Renegade Parkway by a passerby on his way to work.
The victims were identified as Danielle "Rikki" Jacobson, age 22; her nephew, Domonic Davis, age 17; Steven Presley, age 17; and John Lajeunesse, age 16.
Taken into custody on a parole violation shortly after midnight on Friday morning was Jacob Allen Bennett, 26, of Woodbridge Rd. He was identified by TBI Director Mark Gwyn as being a suspect and is being held without bond in the Cumberland County Justice Center.
Sources close to the investigation have told the Chronicle that the panel will be convened Friday while Criminal Court Judge David Patterson is in the county holding arraignment in unrelated cases.
Patterson was also in Crossville Wednesday for a deadline docket and during a brief recess, was presented search warrants to be authorized by the judge by TBI Special Agent Dan Friel, Chief Sheriff's Investigator Casey Cox and Investigator Jerry Jackson.
Afterward, Friel was asked about the target of the search warrants and responded, "It is the TBI's policy that no comment be issued on any open TBI investigation." Neither Cox nor Jackson had comment.
Earlier in the week, personnel from the sheriff's department, Cumberland County Fire Department and Cumberland County Rescue Squad conducted a grid search of the wooded area around the crime scene in an area called Eagles Nest. There was no comment as to what was being sought and whether the search was successful.
While no one close to the investigation would speak on the record, reportedly those involved with the probe are pleased with progress being made. For the first two days, state and local investigators worked around the clock and since that time have been logging long hours as they continue to run down leads and interview potential witnesses.
Once the grand jury convenes and hands down indictments, defendants are brought before a Criminal Court judge for arraignment at which time the judge will ask the person charged if he has an attorney, and if not, can afford one.
If the defendant is found indigent, a court-appointed attorney will be provided. Normally the Public Defender's Office represents indigent defendants, but there may be a conflict with the local defender's office in this case.
Whoever is indicted could face the death penalty, and Tennessee law requires that the defendant be represented by a death penalty certified attorney. The local public defender's office does not have a death penalty certified attorney on staff.
The Chronicle has been told that the only qualified practicing attorney in the area is former Crossville attorney Robert Marlow, who now practices law out of his Shelbyville office.
District Attorney General Randy York said it was too earlier to be thinking about whether the case would be a death penalty case or not.
"When the proper time arrives, we have a procedure in place that we go by which includes several steps that must be followed and criteria met before we make a decision on whether to prosecute a case as a death penalty case," York said.
"The circumstances of the crime certainly meet consideration for this being prosecuted as a death penalty case."
York added that the ultimate decision lies with him and his office.