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Man charged with murdering his grandma, torturing his wife dies in custody

A West Valley man accused of kidnapping and torturing his wife and brutally killing his grandma died after spending less than three months in the Salt Lake County Jail. At this point, police have not reported finding the grandmother's body.

A West Valley man accused of kidnapping and torturing his wife and brutally killing his grandma died after spending less than three months in the Salt Lake County Jail. At this point, police have not reported finding the grandmother's body. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 1-2 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — A West Valley man charged with murder has died after spending almost three months in the Salt Lake County Jail.

A judge dismissed charges against Garman Shaun Cunningham, 51, on May 5. He had been taken from jail to a hospital, where it was reported that he died on March 6, according to the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office. But it did not release the cause of death.

Cunningham had been accused of murdering his grandmother and kidnapping and harming his wife. He was charged in December with aggravated murder and aggravated kidnapping, first-degree felonies; obstructing justice, a second-degree felony; two counts of aggravated assault and three counts of illegal discharge of a firearm, third-degree felonies.

According to charging documents, Cunningham's wife called 911 on Nov. 12 and claimed that she had been held hostage and beaten since Nov. 1. Police said she escaped from the family home in West Valley City and called 911 from a neighbor's phone.

The body of Cunningham's 99-year-old grandmother was not found at the time charges were filed, but he was charged with aggravated murder based on statements from Cunningham's wife, who reported that the grandmother had been brutally murdered, as well as forensic evidence. Others reported that they had not heard from the grandmother lately, according to court documents.

Police, including SWAT, surrounded the home on Nov. 12 and reported hearing shots from inside, as well as windows breaking. Eventually, police said, Cunningham ran out of the home with a sword and a police K-9 successfully chased him down.

A 3rd District judge had ordered that Cunningham should be held in jail without the possibility of bail, pending a trial.

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Emily Ashcraft joined KSL.com as a reporter in 2021. She covers courts and legal affairs, as well as health, faith and religion news.

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