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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Milagro Cunningham, Attempt. Murder/Sex. Batt. Trial Begins

Attempted murder, sex assault trial starts with insanity defense
By Susan-Spencer Wendel The Palm Beach Post
April 10, 2009

Milagro Cunningham, 21, is on trial for sexually assaulting an 8-year-old girl in 2005 and leaving her to die, buried beneath 197 pounds of concrete blocks in a Lake Worth trash bin.

"I am going to tell you right now it was my client that did this," his defense attorney told jurors in opening statements Thursday. "I'm going to ask you to do the most difficult thing anyone has ever asked you to do."

Assistant Public Defender Travis Dunnington told jurors he would ask them to find Cunningham was insane at the time of the crime, urging them not to focus on the emotion of the case, but on the law.

Dunnington said he will present evidence beginning with Cunningham's mother using cocaine while pregnant with him through behavior abnormalities throughout his life.

"In fact, he is autistic," Dunnington said. "You will hear ... how this dysfunction directly led to this horrible crime being committed."Unfortunately this is who Milagro Cunningham is," Dunnington said.

Cunningham is charged with attempted first-degree murder, kidnapping of a child less than 13, aggravated child abuse and three counts of sexual battery on a child. He faces life in prison if convicted as charged.

Last year, Dunnington and prosecutors reached a plea agreement for Cunningham calling for 25 years in prison. That deal was rejected by Circuit Judge Charles Burton, who said in good conscience he could not accept such a term in so serious a case.

The trial continues Monday and is expected to last through Wednesday.,0,576140.story?track=rss

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