It took the jury 3 hours to come up with their verdict. After more than 10 days of testimony, the jury found Brock Cunningham not guilty on charges of child abuse and murder in the first degree.
Cunningham was on trial regarding the death of 3-year-old Natalie Pickle after an incident occurred in November 2008 that led to her death.
Cunningham claimed that on November 19, 2008, Pickle had been jumping on her bed when she fell and hit her head.
When he went to see what the noise was he heard, Cunningham found Pickle on the floor of her bedroom and unresponsive.
A 911 call was made and after EMS arrived, Pickle was taken to Western Plains Medical Complex and later flown to Wichita when she was pronounced dead.
The autopsy done by Dr. Erik Mitchell stated that Pickle had died from blunt force trauma to the head and was classified as a homicide.
Cunningham was charged in January 2013 for child abuse and murder in the first degree regarding the death.
"We obviously respect the jury system and the jury’s decision," Ford County Attorney Natalie Randall said. "We are disappointed for the family of Natalie Pickle.
"The acquittal we got is our burden to bear."
The morning started with defense attorney Daniel Monnat announcing that the defense rested their case.
From that point both Monnat and Randall presented to the jury their closing arguments. Each had been given a 90-minute time limit and Randall as prosecutor was allowed to split her time before and after Monnat’s.
"Natalie’s lifeless body speaks volumes," Randall said. "Medical tests and findings on what her condition was, tells us what she cannot.
"Did Natalie really suffer a fatal injury from a fall from a 19-inch bed onto a floor that was covered by padding, sub-flooring and carpet?"
Monnat then started his closing.
"Not much has changed since we started," Monnat said. "Brock Cunningham is innocent. The state hasn’t produced enough evidence and has based everything on theory, imagination and speculation."
Randall then closed the arguments.
"Her body suffered insult that took her life," Randall said. "She was killed, and he was the only one there."
After the verdict was read the family of Pickle left the courtroom and Judge E. Leigh Hood spoke to Cunningham.
"Mr. Cunningham, this jury has found you not guilty," Hood said. "You are free to go."
Through his attorney’s Cunningham commented on the verdict.
"The only thing I have to say is what I have said all along, I am innocent," Cunningham said. "I’m very grateful to the jurors for recognizing that and I thank my attorneys, Dan Monnat and (defense attorney) Trevor Riddle, and the people of Dodge City who have supported me all these years."
Monnat and Riddle also commented on the verdict.
"After 7 years of insisting on his innocence," Monnat said. "12 jurors reviewed the evidence and concluded that what Brock Cunningham has been saying all along was true. "Natalie Pickle died from a tragic, accidental fall.
"Brock and his family are grateful to the jurors for their clear-eyed review of the evidence, and to everyone in the community who has supported Brock during this difficult time."