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Lawyers argue man facing death penalty was too young to understand repercussions of crime

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) – The layers for the man accused of killing four people, including an unborn child, are trying to convince the judge to take the death penalty off the table.

Marcus Dansby, 23, is accused of killing four people, including an unborn child, at a Holton Avenue home on Sept. 11, 2016.

Marcus Dansby, 23, is accused in the Holton Avenue slaying on Sept. 11, 2016.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in this case which is the first death penalty filing in Allen County since 2006.

In November, his team of defense lawyers filed a large memorandum presenting why they believe the death penalty is unconstitutional and should be dismissed in this case. Along with that brief, lawyers Michelle Kraus and Robert Gevers presented their evidence in a 95-page filled with news articles,  academic studies and case law.

They argue that at the time of the slayings, Dansby was 20 years old. His lawyers say the death penalty shouldn’t apply to Dansby because he was under 21 at the time, which they say constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

READ MORE: Lawyers for the man accused in quadruple homicide ask the judge to dismiss the death penalty

In court on Thursday, his lawyers put a psychology professor from Temple University on the stand to talk about the development of the brain in an adolescent versus an adult.

The psychology professor explained that an adolescent brain acts on impulse, and doesn’t necessarily factor in the consequences of those actions.

Back in 2016, Traeven Harris, 18, Consuela Arrington, 37, and a pregnant Dajahiona Arrington, 18, were all killed in the attack.

Trinity Hairston, 14, was the only one to survive.

Investigators say Dansby was an ex-boyfriend of Dajahiona Arrington.

According to court documents, police found Dansby covered in blood lying on the front porch of the Holton Ave. home.

Officers found a large knife with a broken handle in his pants pocket.

Less than one month before he was set to stand trial, his attorney was tossed from the case.

In February 2018, the judge appointed Michelle Kraus and Robert Gevers as Dansby’s public defenders.

Judge Fran Gull ordered that the jury be drawn from Marion County.

Dansby’s trial is set to begin April 16, 2019.

Kayla Crandall

Kayla Crandall is an Emmy award-winning journalist. She serves as the Social Media and Digital Content Manager at WPTA. Follow her on Twitter @KaylerJayne.

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