BILLINGS, Montana — A 69-year-old Army vet was resentenced to 80 years in prison following his second conviction in a brutal stabbing during a drunken argument over whether the Army or the Marine Corps are better.
William Earl Cunningham was first convicted of deliberate homicide in Montana in 2015 in the death of 40-year-old Nathan Horn, the year before.
The stabbing came after two nights of drunken arguments over which military branch was superior. Horn had claimed at the time to have served in the Marines, although he never did.
Ultimately Cunningham blew his top and repeatedly slashed Horn across his neck and face, killing him, authorities had said. Prosecutors said Cunningham had a long history of drunkenyl assaulting people with a knife.
The Montana Supreme Court overturned Cunningham’s conviction and 80-year sentence in 2018, saying he was denied the chance to question the professional history and credibility of a state witness and not allowed to fully testify about why he was afraid of Horn. He testified he killed Horn in self-defense.
Cunningham didn’t testify at his retrial last summer.
Cunningham told a pre-sentence investigator that Horn’s death was an accident and that he believed he had served enough prison time.
Cunningham’s attorney asked for a 40-year sentence with 20 years suspended, which would have made Cunningham immediately eligible for parole. Prosecutors again sought the 80-year sentence.