A man pleaded "no contest" to second degree murder in court Wednesday for his role in a deadly shooting outside a Shockoe Bottom nightclub.
Kevin Cunningham's plea deal means he won't be re-tried in the 2010 shooting death of Jeremy Uzzle outside the Have a Nice Day Café.
Last year, Cunningham was found guilty of second degree murder, but a judge overturned that decision after a mistake was found at the original trial. Under the deal Cunningham is facing no more than 21 years and 8 months in jail. He had been facing 25 years behind bars.
His mother says she's hopeful the deal may mean her son will spend less time behind bars.
"It's a relief, it's a relief," Ann Cunningham said. "The family has been strong and I wish it didn't go the way it went this whole ordeal, but as I said, God is the answer for everything."
Cunningham and Uzzle were among a group that got into a fight outside the club. Prosecutors say even after police broke up the fight, Cunningham came back and shot Uzzle in the chest. However, defense attorneys say Cunningham was in fear for his life.
"Our evidence will be that he went to the car to get the gun because he still had friends that were at the club that he believed were still in danger," says defense attorney Sara Gaborik. "So basically what that is, is that he admitted that the Commonwealth's evidence was sufficient to find him guilty of second degree, but he's not accepting that's actually what happened."
At the sentencing hearing in a few weeks, Cunningham's lawyers will be able to argue he shot in self-defense in hopes of reducing his time behind bars.
Uzzle's family did not want to go on camera, but did say they just want to put the whole thing behind them.
"I'm really sorry the family has to go through this and I'm really sorry I have to go through this," said Ann Cunningham.
The sentencing date is scheduled for November 26th.
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