Looking at the options: How the defense may argue for Tad Cummins

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The former Tennessee teacher accused of being on the run with his student for more than a month is facing two federal charges.

A federal grand jury indicted Tad Cummins on charges of crossing state lines with the intent to have sex with a minor and obstruction of justice.

The indictment shows that the obstruction of justice charge is regarding the allegation that the 50-year-old threw cell phones in the Tennessee River near Decatur.

We've heard the accusations the FBI has made against Cummins, but not how his attorney plans to defend him in court.

Huntsville defense attorney Mark McDaniel is not representing Cummins, but he shared some insights on how the defense may proceed. McDaniel told us there's only two possible defenses for Cummins.

"The argument would be that he didn't take her across state lines with the intent to have sex. I don't think that's going to fly," said McDaniel.

McDaniel says the more likely defense is insanity.

"They have to prove that number one he has severe mental disease or defect," explained McDaniel.

While they may be able to find a psychologist to testify to that, McDaniel said it's not a slam dunk for Cummins.

"They've got to prove that because of the severe mental disease or defect that he didn't understand the nature or quality of his wrongfulness of his act," he said.

The long time attorney said it's particularly challenging for the defense considering the FBI claims that Cummins admitted to doing things to evade authorities.

"This man did everything he could to disguise himself, disguise her and go to different places. So, I think the evidence is overwhelming that he knew right from wrong," McDaniel said.

While it may not convince a possible jury, McDaniel said it's an argument that could be beneficial for Cummins in sentencing. ​

McDaniel also believes Cummins' federal public defender will be busy until a possible trial.

"You're going to see a hundred motions. You're going to see every motion you can have filed," he said.

He thinks one of the first motions to be filed will be change of venue.

"They are going to try this case somewhere not in Tennessee, some other federal court somewhere," explained McDaniel.

Another motion McDaniel expects to be filed is a motion to suppress Cummins' confession.

He said a pile of paperwork and motions is to not only help Cummins but his attorney.

"The lawyer will do that so that when the case is over the defendant can't file a rule 32 and can't say ineffective assistance of counsel," said McDaniel.

Cummins remains in federal custody on no bond at the Henderson County Detention Center in Kentucky.

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