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Detectives track down murder suspect in 2004 cold case

July 29, 2010

Reviving a cold case from 2004, Huntington Beach detectives have arrested a man suspected of fatally shooting a 19-year-old downtown.

David Cunningham, 29, was arrested in Texas on suspicion of the December 2004 murder of Jason Williams, said Lt. Russell Reinhart.

The case had been unsolved for several years when Det. Pat Ellis reopened it and tracked down the alleged shooter.

Ellis had traveled around Southern California on leads and spoke to potential witnesses before he identified an accomplice in 2008 and then Cunningham on July 7.

"He did a lot of extra work," Reinhart said. "He was really committed to the case and getting it done."

Williams, a Long Beach resident, came to Huntington Beach on Dec. 17, 2004, to meet Cunningham and Winston Miller for a drug deal and got into their silver Chevrolet Impala.

Miller allegedly drove the three to Huntington Street and Utica Avenue, where Cunningham is believed to have shot Williams multiple times and robbed him, Reinhart said.

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Neighbors heard the gunshots and called the authorities. Williams died while en route to the hospital. The Independent previously reported Williams was shot in the chest.

The witnesses gave police some information on the vehicle, but it didn't have a license plate at the time, and police hit a dead end with the investigation, Reinhart said.

"We had some basic descriptions at the time, but nothing we could follow up on," he said.

Ellis followed several leads, which lead him to San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Hollywood, Inglewood and Hawthorne to interview witnesses. The investigation eventually led him to Downey, where he found the Impala with DNA evidence inside.

Ellis was able to trace the vehicle to Miller, Reinhart said.

Through further investigation, Ellis identified Cunningham as the alleged shooter and, with another officer, tracked him down in Texas. Cunningham was transported back to Huntington Beach on July 16.

Miller was arrested in December 2008 and has been in custody for an unrelated crime, Reinhart said. He is expected to be charged as an accomplice to murder.

Cunningham and Miller have not been charged at the Orange County Superior Court, records show.

— Britney Barnes

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