March 12, 2020

Child abuse case now being investigated as a homicide

The investigation into a March 3rd incident in which a child was assaulted has now transitioned into a homicide investigation.

At around 5:35 p.m. on March 3rd, police were dispatched to a residence in the 500 block of Hanover Drive for a report of an unresponsive infant. Medical units arrived and began transport of the child to the hospital. During the course of the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident, police determined the child’s injuries were the result of an assault. The child was airlifted to a hospital in Sioux Falls.

Shortly before 12:00 p.m. on March 4th, law enforcement arrested 26-year-old James Cunningham of Rapid City for Felony Child Abuse before transporting him to the Pennington County Jail.

On March 12th, law enforcement learned the child had passed away as a result of injuries sustained in the assault. Law enforcement has since obtained a warrant for Second Degree Murder in the death of the child. The warrant has been served to Cunningham, who remains in custody at the Pennington County Jail.

This has been a joint investigation between the RCPD and the PCSO, which has been handed off to the Pennington County State Attorney’s Office for prosecution. Any further inquiries into the case will be referred to their office.

* The charges are merely accusations and the arrested individual is presumed innocent until proven guilty.  Any additional details regarding this case can be obtained from the Pennington County State’s Attorney and/or court records as appropriate.

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