Almandinger detailed Grunwald murder to troopers in interview
The seventh day of Erick Almandinger’s murder trial centered around his interview with Alaska State Troopers the day David Grunwald’s body was found.
AST Sgt. Tony Wegrzyn said suspect Dominic Johnson led investigators to Grunwald on December 2, 2016.
That night, Almandinger was taken to the Palmer Trooper Post for a three-hour long interview.
Troopers said Almandinger repeatedly lied to them-- first saying he was in Anchorage the night Grunwald disappeared—then, later saying he was at a friend’s house.
Data from Almandinger’s tablet can be traced to the Knik River Road-area, where Grunwald was found shot and killed—as well as the scene where Grunwald’s burned Bronco was found.
Per Judge Gregory Heath’s orders, small parts of the interview had to be redacted.
Almandinger’s father, Rodney, and his grandmother, Myler, were present for the first part of his interview. His mother, Chrystal Carlson, sat in for the second half.
“Give me a reason why he needed to die that night,” Sgt. Wegrzyn said to Almandinger.
Troopers said the explanation Almandinger gave didn’t add up with the evidence they had.
Almandinger claimed it was Johnson’s idea to pistol-whip Grunwald in the trailer at Almandinger’s house, and said it was Austin Barrett—who they call Andrew—who pulled the trigger.
“He turns him (Grunwald) around facing us, and as soon as he looks up, the bullet goes,” Almandinger makes a motion into his forehead. "He does nothing but just drop, his legs give out. His head hits the ground before his body does.”
"Then what happened?” One of the troopers asked.
"Then Andrew runs, and I run, and I don’t want to look at it. I don’t want to see what happened,” Almandinger said.
Throughout the interview, Sgt. Wegrzyn told Almandinger he knew the suspect wasn’t being truthful in his statements.
“I’m not going to let you sit there and lie to me,” he said.
In the recording, Almandinger tells the investigator he’s very smart.
In his testimony, Sgt. Wegrzyn said Almandinger wanted to know what physical proof they had that connected him to the crime.
"It was clear to me halfway through, maybe three-quarters of the way through, that I wasn’t going to get anything from him unless he knew without a shadow of a doubt I had the information. I couldn’t bluff him into confessing to his involvement,” Sgt. Wegrzyn said.
Prosecutors said witness testimony in the trial will likely wrap up on Friday. Jurors will hear from the Medical Examiner and see pictures from Grunwald’s autopsy, which show the injuries he sustained during the pistol-whipping.
Comments or questions about this story? Email reporter Heather Hintze.
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