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Judge requests more info in Sinks Canyon shooting case

Jul 5, 2013 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

Under the plea deal, Jeremy Cunningham would receive 18 to 48 months in prison.

Wyoming 9th Judicial District Judge Marvin L. Tyler tentatively has accepted a plea agreement for the man who shot at three people on Sinks Canyon Road in January. During the change of plea hearing in Lander, Tyler also ordered a pre-sentence investigation to gather more information on the case.

Tyler said he didn't think he had a sufficient amount of information or enough time to consider additional information that would help him make a final decision and a better determination.

Under the plea agreement, Jeremy Cunningham would receive 18 to 48 months in prison for two counts of assault and battery. Four other counts -- the three charging attempted second degree murder and one charging aggravated assault and battery -- would be dropped under the deal.

Each count of attempted murder in the second degree was a felony punishable by 20 years to life in prison. Each aggravated assault charge was a felony with a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

No injuries were reported in the incident.

Under the plea agreement, Cunningham also would have to pay $4,200 in restitution to repair the damage he caused to a victim's 2004 Dodge Ram 2500 pickup truck.

Plea deal

Tyler explained to Cunningham that he would be given the opportunity to withdraw his plea if the court rejected the agreement, but if he doesn't withdraw, then he is taking his chances.

"You may be treated more harshly," Tyler said to Cunningham.

Fremont County Attorney Michael Bennett asked that the $100,000 bond remain in the agreement. According to the deal, if Cunningham fails to abide by that bond then he can't withdraw the plea and sentencing would proceed.

The judge asked if Cunningham had discussed his decision with the family and friends "most important" to him.

Cunningham's voice changed as he struggled to fight back tears, and he replied, "Yes."

Testimony

When asked if he agreed with the affidavit, Cunningham said he hadn't read the document completely to confidently state it was correct and added that he still wanted to give his side of the story.

Cunningham said that on Jan. 31, he drove up Sinks Canyon Road to find a vehicle he had rear-ended.

He said he wanted to "do the right thing" and exchange vehicle insurance information. He then encountered a truck that was driving at a "high rate of speed" and blowing diesel smoke, Cunningham said.

"Being a father, I stupidly gave them the middle finger," Cunningham said, adding that the truck turned around, and he flipped them off again. Both later ended up on Deer Valley Road.

Cunningham said that as the pick-up truck pulled up beside him, he showed them he was armed with a gun.

"I was under a lot of fear," he said. "They were aggressively coming at me so I began to fire three warning shots."

He also said he didn't know the individuals before the incident, and that the two men, Dalton Weil and Cody Barnes, were outside the truck when the shots were fired.

"The gun I was using only had three shots," he said. "I'm not proud of my decisions."

The affidavit states Weil said he heard a fourth shot "whiz past his head" and described the weapon as a "bolt action rifle."

Detective Sgt. John Zerga stated in the affidavit that he observed three shots in the rear of the vehicle.

Tyler said he expects his pre-sentence investigation to be due at the end of July.

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