DODGE CITY, Kan. — Four years after a girl’s death, there’s an arrest in case. Three year-old Natalie Pickle died in November 2008 in Dodge City.  At the time she was in the care of her mother’s boyfriend, Brock Cunningham.

Thursday afternoon, Cunningham was arrested and booked into the Ford County jail on suspicion of first degree murder and child abuse.  A sergeant at the jail tells Eyewitness News that Cunningham bonded out.  His bond was set at $75,000.

“The death of young Natalie Pickle over four years ago was a tragic loss,” said attorney Dan Monnat who represents Cunningham. “Brock had nothing to do with causing her death.  Brock tried to save Natalie’s life that night.  He has cooperated with law enforcement at the time of the investigation into Natalie’s death and told them he was innocent of any crime.  Today, again, Brock says he’s innocent and will proceed to jury trial unless these accusations are otherwise dismissed.”

When Natalie died, Cunningham told investigators Natalie fell off the bed. She died the following day.

Dodge City police ruled it a homicide.

In previous interviews with Eyewitness News, Natalie’s mother said doctors told them the injuries were too severe to be caused by a fall from a bed.

“He told us this looked like something from a fall from a five story building,” said mother Amanda Perry. “This isn’t something you see from a two foot bed.”

Eyewitness News has reached out to the Ford County attorney for more information.  Once details are available, we will bring them to you.

See video at KWCH

KWCH TV – By Kim Wilhelm

A 28-year-old Dodge City man has been arrested in the 2008 death of his girlfriend’s daughter.

The Dodge City Globe reports that Brock W. Cunningham was charged Thursday with first-degree murder and one count of felony child abuse in the death of 3-year-old Natalie Pickle. The child was severely injured in Dodge City on Nov. 19, 2008, and died the next day at a Wichita hospital.

The child was in Cunningham’s care while her mother was at work. The case has remained open since authorities ruled the child’s death a homicide in December 2008.

Ford County Attorney Natalie Randall says Cunningham was released on $75,000 bond Thursday, but released few other details Friday in a written statement: “The County Attorney’s Office wants justice for Natalie Pickle, and will decline to comment further until court proceedings have concluded.”

Dan Monnat, Cunningham’s lawyer, said Friday that Cunningham is innocent of the charges and “had nothing to do with causing her death.” He says Cunningham tried to save the child’s life that night and has cooperated with law enforcement during the investigation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

See video at KAKE


WICHITA, Kansas – It’s a first of its kind in Kansas, according to Wichita attorney Dan Monnat.

The state of Kansas is demanding William Marotta of Topeka help support a lesbian couple’s three-year-old daughter.

In 2009, Marotta answered the couple’s ad on Craigslist for a sperm donor. He delivered the sperm to their house, which the couple inserted on their own. Marotta also signed away all parental rights. The problem is, he didn’t realize that state law still considers him the birth father and responsible for supporting the child since a physician wasn’t involved in the insemination.

“The statute itself was probably well-intended, inserting a physician in the middle of this as the only practical way to assure against false claims of artificial insemination,” Monnat says.

When the couple broke up, the one who mothered the child turned to the state for public assistance. She says the state compelled her to turn over the biological father’s name. Now, Marotta is fighting the state’s demand of $6,000 in child support. His attorneys set up a Facebook page to solicit donations for the legal fees, as they ask a judge to dismiss the case.

“The issue will be whether to follow the letter of the law or to carve out some kind of exception of the law based on the parties’ intent,” Monnat says.

See video at KWCH

KWCH 12 Eyewitness News – By Jim Grawe

Authorities in Lyon County are investigating after a homeowner shot an intruder breaking into his home near Neosho Rapids.

The shooting has left some asking what their rights are when defending their home or property from intruders. So-called Castle Laws or Doctrine date back to old English law removing the duty of a resident to retreat before using deadly force.

“Controversial cases like this always create a great hue and cry from the public” says Wichita attorney Dan Monnat. We asked Monnat, who has spent decades inside Kansas courtrooms, to research the law on the use of force when someone in breaking into a home.

“Kansas law permits a resident to use such force as the resident believes is reasonably necessary to prevent or terminate an unlawful entry into a dwelling.” says Monnat.

Last September, a Wichita resident shot at three men he says were breaking into his southeast Wichita home, striking one of them.

“Deadly force may used by those persons in those circumstances but only if the person reasonably believes deadly force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to the resident or another person.” according to Monnat.

He says the state law allows a resident to stand their ground with no duty to retreat and repel an aggressor’s force. However, Monnat says the law is different when defending property. He says the legislature has been careful to spell out when force and deadly force can be used.

“I would think that simply to prevent interference with private property deadly force would rarely be justified. We don’t want to go back to the wild, wild west.”

See video at KAKE

KAKE TV – By Chris Frank