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Death penalty on table for quadruple murder suspect after he backs out of plea deal

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – In a shocking twist, the suspect in a February 2014 quadruple homicide at a known drug house on the city’s south side threw out his own plea deal Friday. Now, prosecutors can try him and seek the death penalty, as they’d originally intended.

According to court documents filed Monday, Kenneth “Cody” Rackemann, 26, agreed to plead guilty in a signed plea agreement to four counts of murder, one count of robbery and one count of conspiracy to commit robbery. Under the deal, Rackemann would’ve served four life sentences without parole plus twenty years.

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said defense attorneys came to them asking for the deal.

“We’ve been somewhat skeptical that he would complete the agreement by entering a guilty plea today, and that proved to be the case,” Curry said.

Rackemann at first agreed to the plea in court, but he would not agree to facts laid out in the affidavit of probable cause as read by Marion County Deputy Prosecutor Denise Robinson.

“If he doesn’t admit to the facts that support the crime, then that could potentially be set aside on appeal,” said Curry.

Prosecutors allege there was a conspiracy between four suspects – Kenneth Rackemann, Anthony LaRussa, Valencia Williams, and Samantha Bradley – to rob suspect Walter Burnell’s drug house in the 3400 block of South Parker Avenue in February of 2014.

The robbery turned to murder four times over, as victims Walter Burnell, Jacob Rodemich, Kristy Sanchez, and Hayley Navarra were shot and killed.

In court on Friday, Rackemann would only agree to his involvement, but he would not implicate others, as required to accept a plea agreement. He also would not agree to the type of weapon he had when asked by Robinson.

“I’m sitting here lying under oath,” Rackemann said, in open court.

After a recess and meeting with his attorneys, Rackemann said he wouldn’t go forward with the deal. His family backed his decision.

“I was proud of him, and I’m glad he did,” said Brandy Rackemann, “We know he didn’t do this, and we’re not going to let him go down like this.”

Victim Hayley Navarra’s mother and aunt said deal or not, Rackemann will pay for his alleged crimes.

“I’m getting justice,” said Trisa Alvarado, Hayley’s mother, “We’re getting justice regardless,” said Robyn Alvarado Swan, Hayley’s aunt.

Victim Kristy Sanchez’s father said he didn’t support the plea agreement.

“It’s probably the most significant thing he’s doing to this point in his life,” said John Sanchez, “I respect him for that, because he forced them to put him on trial, so he’d be accountable for his actions, other than just taking a deal and walking out.”

Suspects Anthony LaRussa, Valencia Williams, and now Rackemann face murder charges in the case. Trials are scheduled for September of 2016.

A fourth suspect Samantha Bradley entered a guilty plea to lesser charges in 2014, in return for her testimony against the other co-conspirators.

Rackemann’s defense attorneys, Ray Casanova and Eric Koselke, refused to comment after Rackemann rejected the plea deal.

Curry said prosecutors will move forward to trial, seeking the death penalty.

“This matter will continue potentially for years to come, but certainly we’ll press ahead with a trial and go forward based upon the original charges in the capital case,” said Curry.

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