New details released in 'chilling' Mat-Su murder
A judge called new allegations revealed during a bail hearing for 37-year-old Justin Brunsvold "chilling" Monday morning, but said she couldn't, "in good conscience," rule against his parents as acceptable third-party custodians.
Brunsvold is accused in the shooting death of 32-year-old Patrick McMullen. When Brunsvold was first arrested, court documents laid out a tale of two men arguing over an accusation that one had an affair with the other's estranged wife; Brunsvold allegedly confessed to the killing.
Monday, Palmer Assistant District Attorney Kerry Corliss told the judge, "The story you read in the affidavit is only the last story that the defendant told Troopers", adding that prosecutors believe the killing was "planned and carried out as the result of a grudge".
"I can tell the court that the investigation revealed that this defendant was dealing marijuana on a regular basis, that in this instance he had a beef or dispute with the victim in the case because the victim had been previously [...] stolen from his marijuana grow operation, this was well known amongst all their common friends that this was a grudge that the defendant had, and our evidence leads us to believe that the victim was shot in the back of the head, execution style, while on his knees on the side of the road," Corliss said in court, opposing Brunsvold's request for release on third-party custodian monitoring.
Corliss told the judge Brunsvold sent a text message to a friend, showing the headline from the paper reporting McMullen's death, with the comment, "Good riddance."
She also cited his past involvement in illicit drug operations, including a bust of a 400-plant marijuana grow operation seized by federal authorities in 2005, and a 165-plant operation uncovered in Government Hill during the course of the investigation into McMullen's murder.
Through tears, McMullen's family members asked the judge to keep him locked up.
The mother of McMullen's children spoke directly to Brunsvold, saying her daughter, "asks me every day why you did what you did to her dad, and I have no explanation for her. You sit there, and you don't even look sorry for what you did."
Defense Attorney Rex Butler is representing Brunsvold. Present in court via phone, he told the judge Brunsvold's case is a "self-defense case," and advocated for his client's release to his parents.
Bruce Brunsvold, Justin's father, told the judge he's been supporting his son "to a large extent," paying for the home he lived in, the vehicle he drove, and the credit card Brunsvold had access to for living expenses. He also said he now knows the gun his son is believed to have used to kill McMullen was one of his.
"We are law-abiding people and will not allow the rules to be violated," he told the judge, later adding, "I, really, your honor, believe that he is non-violent."
Palmer Superior Court Judge Vanessa White referenced a case she presided over that recently gained media attention.
"It so happens, I just finished a trial for a young man who was charged with some assaults and slipped his very well-intentioned third parties in the middle of the night and went out and kidnapped and assaulted the same victim again, so, I'm sort of hyper-vigilant at this point, perhaps more hyper-vigilant than I've been in the past," said White, while considering the arguments of both parties.
Jordan King awaits sentencing after re-victimizing the woman he originally assaulted after running away from his parents, who were serving as his third-party custodians.
Judge White ultimately agreed to Brunsvold's release into his parents' custody with several conditions: increased bail, a steel GPS ankle monitor, no contact with anyone but his parents and siblings, no access to internet, phones, alcohol or drugs and 24/7 sight or sound monitoring.
"His parents have to supervise 24 hours a day, which means they sleep in shifts," said White.
Brunsvold is not allowed to leave his parents' home for any reason other than to appear in court.
During interviews with troopers, he told them he suffers from "kidney issues" and doesn't have much longer to live, a claim his parents couldn't explain. Judge White agreed to make herself available for emergency bail hearings, should Brunsvold need permission to go see a doctor.
A pretrial conference for Brunsvold is scheduled for December 20.
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