Retrial set for William Earl Cunningham - | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Retrial set for William Earl Cunningham

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A Laurel man convicted of killing his friend is back in the Yellowstone County jail and could be free on bond as soon as Friday.

William Earl Cunningham was convicted in 2015 of deliberate homicide in the death of 40-year-old Nathan Horn.

Cunningham admitted cutting Nathan Horn's throat stating he was acting in self-defense.

Cunningham was convicted in March of 2015 and sentenced in June of that year to 80 years in state prison.

Since that time, Cunningham and his attorney's have fought to overcome that trial.

The case eventually made it's way to the Montana Supreme Court which ruled last month that there were errors made during the initial trial.

Those errors deprived Cunningham the opportunity to have a fair trial.

Among the errors cited: The defense was not allowed to present evidence regarding statements made by the victim to Cunningham before the altercation.

Those statements may have shown that Cunningham was justified in his use of force.

Another issue was the testimony of Dr. Thomas Bennett. 

Bennett served as the states chief expert witness in the case. 

The defense attempted to impeach Bennett for allegations of mishandling several unrelated autopsies.

The final issue cited by the Supreme Court is the possibility that a juror was identified by the media prior to the trial's conclusion.

There was the concern raised by Cunningham that the jury may have been intimidated causing prejudice and leading to the conviction.

Cunningham remains in the Yellowstone County detention facility this evening.

He's scheduled to have a bond hearing this Friday.

We'll be there and will update you as we get more information.

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