Devin Peterson sentenced to 6 years for role in Grunwald murder
Devin Peterson will spend six years in jail for his role in covering up the murder of David Grunwald.
Judge Kari Kristiansen handed down the sentence in a Palmer courtroom on Monday.
“Where he sits today, he does present a risk of further criminal conduct in the community," she told the courtroom.
Peterson, 20, admitted he hid the guns used to kill the 16-year-old in November 2016 and provided gas cans the suspects used to burn Grunwald’s Bronco.
A jury convicted Erick Almandinger of first-degree murder in May. Dominic Johnson is currently getting ready for trial at the end of October. Suspects Austin Barrett and Bradley Renfro will go to trial in 2019.
Peterson said the suspects came to his house the night of November 13, 2016 and asked him for advice after they shot and killed Grunwald.
“What does Devin Peterson tell them? He tells them to, “Burn that bitch,’” Assistant District Attorney Melissa Wininger-Howard told the judge
She showed pictures of Peterson from social media account and photos of the guns troopers found at his home. Wininger-Howard said Peterson was the leader of the group and “was a role model who embraced the gang lifestyle.”
As part of a plea deal, Peterson agreed to receive six years for the tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution charges, which are Class C felonies.
State prosecutors say, under SB91, the maximum sentence for that level of crime is 18 months with 18 months suspended; that would have meant no jail time at all.
But the state and defense attorneys agreed to add an aggravator which means Peterson’s offense was the worst of its kind. That’s why the judge was able to hand down a longer sentence.
David’s mother, Edie Grunwald spoke in court and asked the judge to accept the deal.
“I think he’ll have the opportunity to get his life together,” she said.
After the hearing, Edie said called it a solemn occasion. She said the sentencing doesn’t give the family closure but they’re glad Peterson is being held accountable for his actions.
“None of this should have ever happened but it has and I think the deal that is made is fair and Devin is good with it and the judges are good with it on the federal side and stateside and Ben and I go along with it. The whole thing is hard on everyone but it has to be done,” Edie said.
In court, Judge Kristiansen called the Grunwalds “heroic and brave” for coming to the hearings and advocating for the community.
She told Peterson she was disappointed he didn’t want to give a statement to the family.
“He took active efforts to cover up what was happening in this homicide investigation and the location of David and prolonged that agony for the family. I was hoping Mr. Peterson would have a statement today. I think it’s important for this family. They’re not going to heal after today. They’re going to have three more trials to get through,” Judge Kristiansen said.
The plea deal also included a three-year federal sentence for drug charges. Peterson admitted to giving drugs to a teenager at a party in July 2016. He received that sentence in May this year, just as Almandinger’s murder trial began.
Those sentences will be served consecutively so Peterson will spend nine years in jail.
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