UPDATE: Laurel Police Officer Takes Stand in Alleged Murder Over Military Branches
BILLINGS, Mont. -
The trial began Monday in the case of a 63-year-old man who killed a 40-year-old man over an argument about the best military branch late last summer.
In late 2014, William Earl Cunningham pled not guilty to one count of deliberate homicide, and his attorney filed notice that they'll rely on a justifiable use of force defense.
Cunningham is charged with one felony count of deliberate homicide for the August killing of Nathan Horn outside a Laurel apartment.
Laurel Police Officer Jeremiah Johnson testified on Monday that on August 2, 2014, around 11 p.m., he responded to what dispatch originally called a "possible suicide attempt." Officer Johnson was the only officer on patrol for the LPD that night.
He arrived on scene, without flashing his lights, because he was treating it as a suicide attempt.
Shortly after he arrived, Cunningham admitted slitting Horn's throat, telling the officer, "I cut him -- he's dead." Johnson testified that when he heard those words -- he realized it might instead be a homicide.
Body cam footage shown to the jury Monday shows Cunningham slurring his words, and explaining the Army/Marine Corps. Argument to Johnson when he was sitting on the porch outside the home.
"I pulled up and I found a male, laying on his back, a very large amount of blood on the ground, and then another male, standing/leaning against a car," Johnson testified.
Cunningham says Horn took a swing at him, so he "did what the Army trained me to do."
Earlier that evening, the two men were drinking Southern Comfort and talking while seated at a picnic table. After the incident, Cunningham blew a .217 breath sample.
Dashcam footage shows Cunningham lighting a cigarette, and then stepping over Horn's body to sit down shortly after Johnson arrived.
After Cunningham spoke with Officer Johnson, and his Miranda Rights were read, he got into the patrol car, and can be heard on Johnson's body cam saying, "I'm going to jail for the rest of my (expletive) life."
The trial resumes Tuesday at the Yellowstone County Courthouse.