Mistrial declared in Blount Co. mother's murder trial

Mistrial declared in Blount Co. mother's murder trial

Kimberly Cunningham with her attorney, Bruce Poston Kimberly Cunningham with her attorney, Bruce Poston

April 15, 2005

BLOUNT COUNTY (WATE) -- After the jury found a mother not guilty of first degree murder in the shooting of the man she says raped her daughter, the judge declared a mistrial. But the case isn't over.

Kimberly Cunningham, 33, was charged with first degree murder in the shooting of 38-year-old Coy Hundley outside his workplace, Slide Lock Tool, in Alcoa in 2003.

The Daily Times says Hundley fathered some of the children belonging to Cunningham's sister.

Cunningham's daughter is now 16-years-old.

She testified that she doesn't remember shooting Hundley.

Her attorney, Bruce Poston, referred to that in his closing argument, saying she's suffered enough. He said what she remembers is what Hundley said when she accused him of the rape and his mocking laugh.

Cunningham turned herself in at the Knox County Sheriff's Office, the same day of the shooting.

However, assistant DA Robert Headrick reminded the jury, made up of 11 women and one man, they're trying a murder case, not a sex abuse case. He asked them to deliberate with their heads, not their hearts.

The jury got the case Thursday and came back Friday night with a verdict of not guilty on first degree murder.

The jury foreman then said they couldn't reach a unanimous verdict on second degree murder and didn't think deliberating anymore would change.

The judge, in essence, declared a hung jury on the second degree murder charge and a mistrial. The jurors were dismissed.

Kimberly Cunningham and her family left the court room, saying nothing about the mistrial.

"They're comforted because for the last two days, they've been waiting for a jury to deliberate," Poston says. "And every time they were called in, they might not have seen their mother again. So the comfort is, mom goes home."

A second trial, with a new jury is a possibility but Cunningham couldn't face the first degree murder charge again.

Headrick wouldn't comment about the mistrial but there's a chance he and the defense could work out a plea bargain and avoid a second trial.

The most Cunningham could be convicted of in a second trial is second degree murder, which would carry a minimum of 20 years in jail.

6 News Reporter Steve Gehlbach and Anchor Reporter Tim Miller contributed to this report.

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