Murder or Vigilante Justice?

Amanda Cunningham said she vividly recalls the day her Uncle Coy raped her.

"I remember I had my purple Little Mermaid shirt on," she told ABC News. "He told me to take my clothes off, and I said no, so he took them off me."

She was 9 years old. Coy Hundley was drunk, Amanda said, but that wasn't unusual. He would rape her again a few months later, she testified in court.

Nearly five years later, in the fall of 2003, Amanda's mother, Kimberly Cunningham, finally learned of the alleged attacks. What happened next was the talk of Knoxville, Tenn., for years.

null

Kimberly got into her car and drove to the tool company where Hundley worked. She called him out into the parking lot. Cunningham said that she was praying he would deny the rape. Instead, she said Hundley, 39, laughed at her.

"What are you going to do about it?" he allegedly said.

Kimberly shot him five times, reloaded the weapon and fired five more rounds, killing him.

"I'll never forget him laughing at me," she testified at trial, according to court transcripts.

Witnesses said that after Kimberly shot Hundley, she got back into her car, pulled out of the parking lot and up to the road, put her blinker on and calmly drove away. Forty-five minutes later, she was in the Alcoa, Tenn., Police Department, turning in her nickel-plated revolver and telling police there had been a shooting.

"The person who is a good mother and in control — and I'm a compassionate person — was completely gone," Kimberly told ABC News. "You wouldn't believe how tiny she was," Kimberly said, her voice cracking. "This little thing, she wasn't more than 42 pounds, and for someone to do such vulgar things to her … there [sic] is simply no words to describe what happened … I just totally lost control."

On an audiotape of the police interrogation obtained by ABC News, Kimberly can be heard sobbing. "He raped my baby!" she told police.

In her first trial in April 2005, a Knoxville jury acquitted her of first degree murder, but deadlocked on second degree murder. In a second trial in October 2005, the jury acquitted Kimberly of second degree murder, but found her guilty of voluntary manslaughter. She was sentenced to four years in prison, a sentence that was recently reduced on appeal to six months in prison.

"If she hadn't reloaded that gun," said Carl Eppolito, a juror from the second trial, "I would have let her walk."

For the tight-knit town of Knoxville, nestled in the shadow of the Smoky Mountains, the case posed the thorniest of questions: What would you do if you believed your child had been raped?

He Said They'd 'Never Find My Body'

Kimberly had obtained a gun permit, taken lessons at a firing range and carried a loaded gun in a black purse in her car since August 2003, when she learned that Hundley's eldest son had allegedly molested her son Shane, now 15, as well as Amanda.

After Kimberly reported this to police, the Hundleys threatened her, Kimberly testified. Hundley was the common-law husband of Kimberly's sister Rhonda.

"I was scared of their family," Kimberly said. "They wanted me to drop it, kept telling me that 'it's gonna come out of my a--' if I didn't drop it." She said that Hundley and his friends repeatedly told her that they'd "never find my body."

Feeling helpless and angry, she said, she smashed the windows in Hundley's son's car. When she called Hundley at work, she testified, he told her the vandalism made the two families "even."

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
  • |
  • 4
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: North Conway teen, Abigail Hernandez, has been missing for two months.
Conway Police Department/AP Photo|www.bringabbyhome.com
Shirley MacLaine Selling Retreat in Mexico
Zillow | Inset: Carlos R. Alvarez/Getty Images