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Grove City father sentenced on gun, drug charges

LITCHFIELD — A Grove City father whose teenaged son and daughter died last year in a murder-suicide received a stayed sentence Thursday on gun and drug charges arising from the death investigation.

Thomas Jon Cunningham, 53, will spend five years on probation for removal or alteration of a firearm serial number and for fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance. Both are felonies.

Judge Stephanie Beckman also ordered him to undergo a chemical assessment and mental health evaluation.

As part of a plea agreement reached last month in Meeker County District Court, charges of felony child endangerment, gross misdemeanor negligent storage of firearms and misdemeanor obstruction of the legal process were dismissed.

Cunningham's two children — David, 17, and Jessica, 15 — were found shot to death at the family home in rural Grove City on Feb. 29, 2016. Authorities later determined that David shot and killed his sister and a family dog before turning the gun on himself.

According to the criminal complaint, Thomas Cunningham found their bodies but before calling 911, he first removed about eight pounds of marijuana, marijuana plants and seeds and other marijuana paraphernalia from the house.

A search of the property by law enforcement uncovered 20 guns and multiple boxes of ammunition in the home and in a pickup truck and a pole shed. Seventeen of the guns were found in the bedroom of David Cunningham.

Marijuana and the related paraphernalia were found behind the property, in and around a slough about a half mile from the house.

Cunningham was alleged to have encouraged and allowed his children to use and possess marijuana, and allowed access to the firearms and ammunition.

Anne Polta

Anne Polta covers health care, business/economic development and general assignment. Her HealthBeat blog can be found at Follow her on Twitter at @AnnePolta.

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