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Man who killed TJ Cunningham sentenced

The former CU football star was killed after a parking spot dispute.

DENVER — Marcus Johnson, the man convicted of killing former CU football star T.J. Cunningham, was sentenced on Friday to 45 years in prison.

In February of 2019, Cunningham and Johnson were involved in an ongoing dispute over a parking spot in their Aurora neighborhood. 

The two men agreed to settle the dispute in the parking lot of nearby Eaglecrest High School, where Johnson then shot and killed Cunningham. Six weeks ago, a jury convicted Johnson of second-degree murder.

The 46-year-old Cunningham was a married father of five children.  He was a Colorado native who played one year in the NFL. When his playing days were over, he came back to Colorado and became an educator.  At the time of his death, he was an assistant principal at Hinkley High School in Aurora.  

In court on Friday, Cunningham's widow, Kristi, said the impact of his death has been immeasurable.

"I am hardly ever alone, but there are so many times when the room is full of people that I feel like I am all alone," said Kristi Cunningham.

For his part, Johnson made a brief statement to the court before he was sentenced.

"I have a lot of remorse for what happened. "If I could turn back the hands of time and do something different, I really would," Johnson said. 

Johnson then asked Judge Elizabeth Weishaupl to show mercy.  And she did. But only a little, sentencing Johnson to 45 years in prison, instead of the maximum 48.

"Mr. Johnson made a series of really bad decisions.  He could have stopped it any time that day," said Judge Weishaupl. 

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