EAGLE, Colo. (CBS4) – She was adopted by an elementary school teacher who used to be a nun. Now prosecutors say a 29-year-old Aurora woman knew she was going to kill her mother late last month.

Traci Cunningham appeared in court on Tuesday on charges of two counts of first-degree murder carrying a possible sentence of life in prison.

Traci Cunningham told police she and her mother Penelope Cunningham were headed to Grand Junction when they pulled off the interstate and onto a rural road near Gypsum to take pictures and go for a hike. In the middle of an argument Penelope Cunningham got out of the car.

Traci Cunningham told police she blacked out and the next thing she remembered her mother was dead and the gun was in her hand. She then fled and police arrested her in Lakewood over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Penelope Cunningham’s body was found frozen in the middle of Gypsum Creek Road. She was a teacher at Maxwell Elementary School in Denver.

In court on Tuesday the district attorney said he hasn’t decided if he’ll try for the death penalty.

Traci Cunningham also faces a charge of tampering with evidence and two other charges that could increase her sentence.

More Traci Cunningham Stories


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