Prosecutor pursues death penalty in quadruple homicide

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry will pursue the death penalty in the quadruple homicide on the south side of Indianapolis in February.

Walter Burnell, Jacob Rodemich, Kristy Sanchez, and Hayley Navarra were all shot to death on Feb. 20.

Four people have been charged in the case — Kenneth Rackemann, Anthony LaRussa, Valencia Williams and Samantha Bradley.

Curry said he will pursue the death penalty in Rackemann’s case. Curry said the death penalty was chosen because there were multiple victims, the homicides were committed during a robbery and the crimes happened while Rackemann was on parole.

There is a lengthy process the prosecutor’s office follows when considering whether to pursue the death penalty. Part of that process is talking to the victim’s family to understand their wishes and so the family understands the long process involved in death penalty cases.

Curry said death penalty cases are costly, estimating it could be a seven-figure dollar amount. As such, he said it’s important to use “significant discretion” on which cases to file.
The last death penalty case filed in Marion County was for the murder of IMPD Officer David Moore. That case was ultimately settled with a guilty plea and a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

No decision has been made on whether the death penalty will be sought against the man accused of killing IMPD Officer Perry Renn. Curry said he understands the community is angry, and he shares that anger. However, he said “being mad is the single worst basis” for deciding whether to pursue a death penalty case.

IMPD’s Police Chief Rick Hite said this is meant to send a message to those thinking of committing crime.

“This will be an example for others who are thinking about going down this path: to reconsider their thoughts, and their actions,” Hite said. “We have to be clear about the message, and resolute. This violence is not permitted in our society, and unfortunately these individuals just didn’t get that. Going forth, justice will prevail.”

A family member of one of the victims spoke with 24-Hour News 8, saying they’re torn about the decision to seek a death penalty, but adding, they understand why the prosecutor would seek that.

“I’m not for the death penalty. However, I don’t create the laws. I know if I break the law, I know I have to pay the consequence,” they said. “Nothing can replace that loss.”

Below is the list of charges and the individuals charged in the quadruple homicide:

  • Kenneth Rackemann was charged with four counts of murder, four counts of felony murder, robbery, a Class A felony, and conspiracy to commit robbery, a Class A felony.
  • Anthony LaRussa was charged with four counts of felony murder, robbery, Class A felony, and conspiracy to commit robbery, a Class A felony.
  • Valencia Williams was charged with one count of murder, four counts of felony murder, robbery, a Class A felony, and conspiracy to commit robbery, a Class A felony.
  • Samantha Bradley was charged with four counts of felony murder, robbery, a Class A felony, and conspiracy to commit robbery, a Class A felony.
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