BILLINGS, Mont. -

A 63-year-old Montana man who is charged with deliberate homicide for slashing another man's throat told police they were arguing over which branch of the United States military was better, the Army or the Marines.

William Earl Cunningham of Laurel made an initial appearance in Yellowstone County Justice Court on Tuesday, where Justice of the Peace David Carter set his bail at $500,000.

Cunningham is charged in the death of 40-year-old Nathan Horn of Billings. He did not enter a plea and will be assigned a public defender.

Charging documents say Cunningham told police that he and Horn were arguing Saturday night when Horn jumped up and took a swing at him. Cunningham told officers he did what the Army taught him to do and he "cut" Horn.

Responding officers found Cunningham leaning against a car and Horn lying on the grass next to Cunningham's feet. Horn had a cut on his right cheek and a deep cut on the left side of his neck.

"I cut him. He's dead," Cunningham told police, according to charging documents. "The knife's on the table."

Horn was pronounced dead less than an hour later.

After Cunningham was read his rights, he told officers he and Horn were sitting at the picnic table when they began arguing about whether the Army or Marines was the best branch of the military, court records said.

Laurel Police Sgt. Mark Guy said Monday that the men had argued the night before about the same issue. He wasn't sure if either man had served in the military.

Lena Heller told KULR-TV that she had invited the two men over on Saturday night and they had been drinking when they started arguing.

"I think it's horrible that somebody would just kill somebody for no reason, just because of an argument," Heller said.