Attorneys enter not guilty pleas for defendants in David Grunwald murder case
Last updated at 6:05 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 13
All five suspects facing charges in connection to the kidnapping and murder of 16-year-old David Grunwald were arraigned in Palmer court Tuesday morning.
Four of the teenage suspects — Erick Almandinger, Dominic Johnson, Austin Barrett and Bradley Renfro — face first-degree murder charges, multiple counts of second-degree murder, kidnapping and hindering the prosecution for their alleged roles in Grunwald’s death.
Eighteen-year-old Devin Peterson faces one count of hindering prosecution and three counts of tampering with physical evidence.
Attorneys entered not guilty pleas on all counts for each of the five defendants.
The teens sat silently as Superior Court Judge Kari Kristiansen announced future pretrial dates and bail amounts. No bail was given for the four teens charged with murder, while Peterson’s bail was set at $100,000.
Almandinger, who appeared in court wearing orange prison clothing Monday, was originally arrested by Alaska State Troopers on Dec. 3. The other four defendants were arrested on Dec. 9.
Almandinger, Johnson, Barrett and Renfro are scheduled to appear in court again the week of Feb. 21. Peterson will appear in court the week of Feb. 27.
David’s parents, Ben and Edie Grunwald, were seated in the packed courtroom Tuesday.
Peterson’s family attended the hearing as well, and while his cousin, Laniccia Mireles, described him as a “troubled teen,” she said his involvement in the case was not the murder itself.
“Devin is not a murderer nor was he there. And nor is he even ok with it now that friends are accused or could have been a part of this tragic situation,” she said in an interview. “Devin Peterson is not a murderer and he is not involved with this murder, and me and my family are going to do everything we can to prove that.”
Peterson’s brother, Damien Peterson, echoed similar thoughts and stated that Devin Peterson was at home during the murder.
“It’s kind of messed up, at the same time he did play a part, I guess,” Damien Peterson said. “If he knew about it, I don’t know.”
Damien and Devin Peterson were both named as suspects in an Alaska State Trooper dispatch in June about an alleged kidnapping and robbery. Barrett was also listed as a suspect and he and Devin Peterson were initially charged through the Division of Juvenile Justice. While troopers said all three would be tried as adults, online court records show that neither Barrett or Devin Peterson were ever officially charged in that case. Damien Peterson pleaded guilty to second-degree assault, and prosecutors dismissed charges of kidnapping and robbery.
Eric Ruble contributed reporting. This is a developing story; please check back for updates.
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