Murder suspect back in custody, charged with violating house arrest
A man accused in the execution-style shooting death of a Wasilla man violated his conditions of release by contacting witnesses in the case against him, telling one of them house arrest was “pretty relaxing”, according to court documents.
Justin Brunsvold, 37, is accused in the shooting death of 32-year-old Patrick McMullen on Nov. 2, 2017.
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.
But at a December bail hearing, 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."
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 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.
Thursday, Brunsvold was charged with violating his conditions of release and rearrested. According to a new charging document, Brunsvold reached out to three witnesses in the case against him who are not identified by name.
The document says Brunsvold called one witness so many times that the person changed their number. The witness told investigators that Brunsvold then reached out through Facebook, using the moniker “Alex Law,” and sent a selfie to prove his true identity.
The witness said Brunsvold also left a voice message saying the witness could “really help” him with the case.
Another witness gave Troopers screenshots of Facebook messages from the Alex Law profile.
According to the complaint:
"In the messages using 'Alex Law's' profile, Brunsvold tells [the witness] that he's 'living the dream haha. Just hanging out and going to court. It's pretty relaxing really', and talks about being on house arrest."
The third witness told Troopers they had spoken with Brunsvold via messages and voice calls an estimated 50 times since his release, because Brunsvold "has nothing better to do."
"I had him on a very strict set of release conditions," said Judge White during a bail hearing on Monday, noting Brunsvold wasn't supposed to be using the internet or cell phones or speaking to anyone other than his immediate family.
During the December bail hearing when Judge White agreed to approve Brunsvold's parents as third-party custodians, she referenced a case she presided over recently that 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 has since been sentenced for re-victimizing the woman he originally assaulted after running away from his parents, who were serving as his third-party custodians.
During interviews with troopers, Brunsvold 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, but online court records show no documentation of an emergency medical pass being necessary since Brunsvold's December release.
Brunsvold will remain in custody for now, with a new bail set at more than $50,000 cash and will have to have new court-approved third-party custodians to be released again before trial.
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