Man accused of murdering Hinkley High assistant principal pleads not guilty

Pictured: Marcus Johnson. Credit: Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office.

AURORA | A man charged with murdering a Hinkley High School assistant principal in February has pleaded not guilty to the crime, according to the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. 

Marcus Johnson, 31, formally entered a not guilty plea to the single count of first-degree murder filed against him at an arraignment held Monday morning. 

Johnson is accused of shooting Anthony “T.J.” Cunningham, an Aurora Public Schools employee and former University of Colorado football star, during an argument the two men had in the parking lot of Eaglecrest High School on Feb. 17, according to court records. 

Johnson and Cunningham, who were neighbors in unincorporated Arapahoe County, had agreed to meet in the Eaglecrest parking lot to address a lingering parking dispute.

After yelling obscenities at one another, Johnson shot Cunningham three times, striking him in the head and chest, according to a probable cause statement filed Feb. 19. Cunningham, who was only holding a bottle when he was shot, died at a Parker hospital the next day.

Moments after the shooting, Johnson called dispatchers and admitted shooting his neighbor. He told investigators the gun he used was still in his car.

Arapahoe County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Johnson at his home on South Rome Street about 15 minutes later.

Cunningham, who went by the nickname T.J. for Tony Jr., was a defensive back and wide receiver for the buffaloes from 1992 to 1995. He was later drafted by the Seattle Seahawks.

Johnson is currently being held without bond at the Arapahoe County Detention Center, according to county records. He’s scheduled to appear in district court for a motions hearing at 9 a.m. on Nov. 22.

A week-long trial is scheduled in Johnson’s case beginning Jan. 7, 2020.