Final sentence imposed in Cunningham shooting case; Judge calls it a ‘heck of a deal’
(Lander, Wyo.) – Ninth District Court Judge Marvin Tyler handed down the final sentence for Jeremy Cunningham, who has been convicted in a January 2013 shooting off Sinks Canyon Road.
Per a plea agreement, that Tyler said he was apprehensive to approve, Cunningham has pleaded guilty to three counts of Aggravated Assault and Battery. In exchange, three charges of attempted murder were dismissed, as were probation revocations in other misdemeanor cases. He received a 6-10 year prison sentence for each charge, and the sentences are to be concurrent. However, the sentence was suspended in lieu of 5 years supervised probation. He’s been given 394 days credit for incarceration so far, not including time in treatment.
The suspended sentence was dependent on his successful completion of inpatient substance abuse treatment, starting at the beginning of March 2014. Cunningham’s Attorney Kate Strike said he completed the program, “exceeding expectations.” He was given the ability to successfully discharge in May, but he and his therapist agreed he should stay for another month in order to help maintain his sobriety. Strike said Cunningham has been sober for 510 days.
Both Strike and Fremont County Attorney Michael Bennett asked Tyler to accept the terms and conditions of the plea agreement. Bennett said the agreement allows the victims in the case to feel safe with Cunningham living out of the community, as well as gives Cunningham an opportunity to get help.
Cunningham is expected to start a Volunteers of America program in Gillette tomorrow. He is set to leave Fremont County today. Cunningham read to the court some of the lessons he’s learned and the changes he’s made since starting treatment. “I’ve learned it is necessary to ask for help,” he said. “I’ve learned comfort is a slow death.” He also said he no longer wants to die, citing a new zest for life that he’s found in Christianity.
Tyler noted that he rejected the initial plea agreement in the case, and said he was only lukewarm on this one. However, he said he is taking Cunningham at his word that he’ll abide by the terms of his supervised probation.
“You’ve been given a very very good deal,” he said, later calling it a “heck of a deal.” Tyler said this is the first time he’s granted supervised probation for Aggravated Assault and Battery, and he warned Cunningham that if he fails his probation he will likely sentence him to the prison time rather than making his probation more stringent.
Among the supervised probation requirements is a provision that requires Cunningham to avoid contact with the victims and victim’s families, and never be closer than 350 feet to them.
The charges stem from Cunningham firing at least three rifle rounds toward three victims on Sinks Canyon Road. Originally, Cunningham was charged with three counts of attempted second degree murder and three charges of aggravated assault and battery, corresponding to the three victims. (Read more about the alleged crimes in this story.)