June 2015 trial date set in southeast side quadruple homicide; emotions overtake courtroom

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Sheriff's deputies had to clear the courtroom after a dispute between supports of the suspects and families of the victims.

By Russ McQuaid

INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 14, 2014) – A judge set a June 15, 2015, trial date for three suspects in last winter’s quadruple murder at a drug house on Indianapolis’ southeast side, but only after sheriff’s deputies cleared the courtroom of observers.

Kenneth “Cody” Rackemann faces the death penalty and will be tried alongside Anthony LaRussa and Valencia Williams.

Samantha Bradley has agreed to plead guilty to her role in the killings.

Judge Mark Eisgruber decided to move the trial to next summer to give Rackemann’s attorneys more time to prepare their death penalty case although they indicated they would prefer a 2016 trial date.

Rackemann answered “yes, sir,” when asked if he understood the state’s death penalty filing against him.

The court took Rackemann’s request to marry his girlfriend while in jail under advisement and indicated he will make a ruling Sept. 5.

Rackemann made his plea for marriage directly to the judge.

“It’s my right,” he said as fiancée Tia Brassfield watched from the gallery. “I love this person. I’m facing all of this probably on my shoulders. It can help me by my son coming to see me. It’s going to help my son.”

Rackemann’s attorneys argued there is no safety or security reason to keep their client from being married while awaiting trial.

Attorneys for Rackemann and LaRussa said they had no warning last week when it was announced in court that Bradley had agreed to plead guilty, setting her up to testify against their clients.

Ray Casanova, representing Rackemann, asked the court if he could inspect Bradley’s personal belongings, which are set to be sent to her in the Johnson County Jail where she has been transferred.

“Is there a cell phone in her personal property?” he asked the judge. “To me that would be a very significant piece of evidence.”

Eisgruber ordered that Bradley’s property not be released.

Four people–21-year-old Hayley Navarra, 22-year-old Kristy Sanchez, 43-year-old Jacob Rodemich and 47-year-old Walter Burnell–died on a rainy February night on South Parker Avenue in what a witness told FOX59 News was a botched drug robbery.