A 30-year-old Columbia man facing a murder charge in the beating death of Carlos Kelly pleaded guilty to first-degree drug trafficking Monday in the 13th Circuit Court.
Rodney Eugene Cunningham, who is charged with second-degree murder and first-degree robbery in Kelly’s slaying last March, was scheduled for sentencing on Dec. 11 for the drug trafficking charge.
After a motion from defense attorney Richard French was denied by Circuit Judge Gene Hamilton, Cunningham hung his head, returned to his seat in the corner of the jury box and mouthed to a woman in the courtroom: “They’re going to give me life ... I can’t do life.”
Cunningham sold more than two grams of a controlled substance with a cocaine base to a co-operating citizen on April 20 and May 2. He faces 10 years to life in prison for the drug charge, a class A felony.
Cunningham was arrested March 30 on drug charges. Kelly was killed a day earlier on March 29. Cunningham will go to court for second-degree murder and first-degree robbery on Jan. 30, 2007. Nicole Gorovsky is the prosecuting attorney on the drug charge.