Second trial set for Grunwald murder suspect
The second trial for one of the four suspects accused in David Grunwald’s murder will begin in September.
Last month Judge Gregory Heath granted a motion for Dominic Johnson’s trial to be separated from co-defendants Bradley Renfro and Austin Barrett. Suspect Erick Alamandinger was already set to stand trial alone.
Investigators say Almandinger was the one who pulled the trigger and killed 16-year-old Grunwald in November 2016. Renfro and Barrett told troopers Johnson pistol-whipped Grunwald before he was killed.
In his motion Johnson’s attorney, Lyle Stohler, said if state prosecutors want to use those statements Renfro and Barrett made during the investigation, Johnson would have to have his own trial.
A fifth suspect, Devin Peterson, pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence by hiding the murder weapons Almandinger gave him after the murder.
Palmer District Attorney Roman Kalytiak said there are scheduling logistics getting four murder suspects to trial. Heath will also retire at the end of the year, so that could complicate matters.
At a hearing in Palmer on Wednesday, state prosecutors and Johnson’s attorney agreed on a trial date of September 24. Kalytiak expects the trial to take three weeks but currently it’s only scheduled for two weeks because of new changes to the jury system.
“We’re having jury pools for only two weeks period of time,” Heath told the attorneys. “My question on that is how do we do questionnaires, how are we getting our panels? I have not figured that out yet."
Almandinger’s trial is scheduled to begin May 1.
Renfro and Barrett are still being tried together. Online court records indicate their trial day is set for April but Kalytiak said he doesn’t think attorneys will be ready for trial until early 2019.
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