Michael Cunningham Accepts Plea Deal

- A man accused of killing his unborn child nearly two years ago in Montague County will not be going to trial.

Jury selection in the trial of Michael Cunningham was suppose to start today but did not.

A few hours before jury selection was supposed to start for the capital murder trial of Michael Cunningham he accepted a plea deal to avoid going to trial and the possibility of receiving the maximum sentence of life in prison without parole.

Cunningham was arrested in February 2012 and charged with capital murder in the death of his unborn child.

Montague County Sheriff's officials say it happened more than a year ago on Pine Road near Lake Nocona.

Deputies say there they found Courtney Quintana severaly beaten.

Then, authorities learned she was 20 weeks pregnant and lost the baby.

Since the charge was capital murder, Cunningham could have faced the death penalty but the former Montague County D.A. decided to instead seek life in prison without parole.

And, increased media coverage caused the trial to be moved to clay county.

Today around 9:30 a.m., District Attorney  Paige Williams says Cunningham pleaded guilty to the lesser first degree offense of injury to a child.

That offense carries a punishment range of five years to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

The plea agreement calls for Cunningham to serve 40 years in prison.

Both Williams and Defense Attorney Dustin Nimz declined on-camera interviews.

Nimz told us he would have liked to have gone to trial but said that can be risky when the maximum sentence is life without parole.

Because Cunningham pleaded  guilty to the lesser first degree offense of injury to a child, Williams says he'll be eligible for parole after serving half his sentence.

But according to Defense Attorney Nimz, with good behavior and other factors, his client could actually be eligible for parole after serving less than five years, but he says that is rarely granted that early in a sentence.

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