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Two given 14-year prison terms

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By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

For the second time within a month, a Fayette County man has been sentenced to 14 years in prison for a sex crime.

Edward Cunningham, 30, of Vandalia, was given a 14-year sentence on Tuesday by Fayette County Resident Circuit Judge S. Gene Schwarm.

Cunningham was found guilty of aggravated criminal sexual abuse at a jury trial last November.

He was charged in June of last year with predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, a Class X felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison. The charge filed by Fayette County States Attorney Stephen Friedel alleged that Cunninghams victim was under the age of 13 at the time the offense was allegedly committed.

Cunningham was sentenced a little more than four weeks after Michael Boaz of Brownstown was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Boaz, 37, was charged in October 2006 with one count of criminal sexual assault (Class 1 felony), one count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse (Class 2 felony) and one count of failure to register as a sex offender after a change of address (Class 3 felony).

In August of last year, Boaz submitted an open guilty plea on the charge of criminal sexual assault, meaning that an agreed-upon sentence was not included in the plea. He also filed an Alford plea on the aggravated criminal sexual abuse charge; in an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt, but admits that the prosecution has sufficient evidence to prove guilt.

Also in Fayette County Circuit Court recently, a jury acquitted a rural Beecher City man who represented himself at trial.

At a jury that concluded last Monday, Walter Ivan Black, 28, was found innocent of two counts of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.

The charges filed by Friedel last summer alleged that Black had possessed an uncased pistol and ammunition in his vehicle while not on his property.