State, defense rest case in Almandinger’s murder trial
All of the evidence has been presented to jurors in Erick Almandinger’s murder trial.
Almandinger is the first of four suspects to be tried for 16-year-old David Grunwald’s death.
Investigators said Almandinger, Dominic Johnson, Bradley Renfro and Austin Barrett pistol whipped and executed Grunwald on November 13, 2016.
For the past two weeks state prosecutors have presented evidence that shows Almandinger was involved in the killing
Cell phone data from his tablet places him at Grunwald’s murder scene off Knik River Road then at Grunwald’s burned Ford Bronco off Sitze Road later that evening.
Almandinger is facing nine charges altogether: three counts of second-degree murder and single counts of first-degree murder, first-degree assault, kidnapping, tampering with physical evidence, first-degree vehicle theft, and third-degree arson.
Defense attorney Jon Iannaccone asked Judge Gregory Heath to acquit Almandinger of the murder charges.
“The state didn’t prove for Murder 1 it was Erick’s purpose to kill David Grunwald. The state did not provide evidence that Erick was the principal; they didn’t provide evidence proficient to show he was an accomplice to this,” Iannaccone said.
He also claimed the “extreme indifference” part of a second-degree murder charge didn’t fit the crime.
“All the evidence shows it was an execution so there’s no extreme recklessness here,” Iannaccone said.
Palmer District Attorney, Roman Kalytiak, said it was never the state’s intention to prove Almandinger was the shooter.
“It was not our purpose here to show which coward pulled the trigger in this case. Our purpose was to show all of them acted together as a group to accomplish this terrible deed,” Kalytiak said.
Kalytiak went on to say Almandinger admitted in an interview with troopers he knew they were going to kill Grunwald when they left the Almandinger home that night.
“The decision was make to take David out because he ‘knew too much.’ It’s after that they put David in the Bronco and drove to the Butte,” he said.
Iannaccone admitted Almandinger is guilty of crimes he committed after Grunwald was killed. Those include burning the Bronco and lying to police. He said Almandinger is not guilty of first-degree murder, however, because he was just along for the ride.
The state disputes that claim. Kalytiak said buying gas to burn the vehicle and deleting Facebook messages shows he was trying to downplay his involvement.
“If he wasn’t a willing participant in all those crimes he wouldn’t have undertook all those actions to cover up the crime,” Kalytiak said.
Heath said he would take that under advisement and issue an order by the end of the day.
Jury instruction will begin early Wednesday morning. The state and defense are expected to give their closing arguments around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.
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