Evidence from trailer plays key role in murder trial
Jurors in the Erick Almandinger murder trial are learning more about the events that led up to David Grunwald’s death.
Troopers say 16-year-old Grunwald was not only executed on the night of November 13, 2016, but was also severely beaten before that.
Members of the jury got out of the courtroom to look at one of the state’s largest pieces of evidence, the camper trailer from Almandinger’s house.
That’s where troopers say Grunwald was ambushed when he came out of the bathroom and pistol-whipped by his friends. Investigators said Almandinger and the three other murder suspects—Dominic Johnson, Bradley Renfro and Austin Barrett—then tried to cover up the evidence of their crime.
Forensic scientist Jamie Nading testified on Wednesday she found several areas of concern throughout the trailer.
"This is the area S1. Could have been possible blood. We did test it with hemasticks, which is a presumptive test for blood-- it was positive so we did collect that,” Nading told the court.
She explained hemasticks are used to narrow down what samples are collected in the field. Nadine said it’s impossible to swab every area of a vehicle as large as the trailer so they can test for blood on site before getting definitive results back from the lab.
Troopers said it was Johnson who hit Grunwald with Almandinger’s .40 Ruger. They say the four suspects tried to clean up the blood and burned a rug that was inside the front doorway.
Nadine testified there were white spots on the floor near the entryway.
“It could have been dried cleaning supplies. It was a white residue, was the door coming from there. The odor was definitely in the entry area,” she said.
Kyle Pratt took the witness stand next. He lives next door to the Almandingers. Pratt said he remembered a strange small the morning of November 14, the day after Grunwald went missing.
"It was a pungent smell of chemical and maybe a plastic burning smell. I was cutting firewood on the backside of my house and I checked my chimney to make sure it wasn’t chimney fire of any kind,” Pratt said.
David Evans was the last witness to testify on Wednesday. He asked Grunwald for a ride to Almandinger’s house the night of November 13. Grunwald dropped Evans off, then went to take his girlfriend home.
Evans said Grunwald planned to return to the Almandinger’s house later and the three were going to hang out in the trailer and play video games.
Evans said he had been living at the Almandinger’s house but hadn’t been home in a week. When he returned and asked the grandmother, Myler Almandinger, if he could stay, she told him no.
That’s when Evans said he decided to go back to his parents’ house. He said he took a shower and got a ride home from his brother; he left before Grunwald ever returned. Evans said he never saw any of the other suspects at the home.
Evans considered himself a friend of Grunwald’s and said he would never do anything to cause him harm.
"He was a good guy, he was successful, very smart and a good person,” Evans testified.
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