Defense objects to 'frozen' description of Grunwald's body
On the second day of Dominic Johnson's murder trial, his defense attorney interrupted two witnesses while they described the crime scene where 16-year-old David Grunwald's body was found.
Crime scene analysts detailed the location where Grunwald was shot and killed.
Johnson led investigators into the woods off mile 7 of Knik River Road on December 2, 2016, nearly three weeks after Grunwald went missing. His body was found about 250 feet through thick brush down a seldom-used trail. Investigators said Grunwald's body was covered with so much snow it was hard to see him at first.
"If someone hadn't told me there was a body there I wouldn't have obviously found it," said Trooper Scott Bartlett. "I probably would have just walked right by it."
Grunwald's parents kept their heads down as the state showed graphic pictures of the crime scene. State forensic scientist Carly Wiehe said she took about 200 pictures over several hours, documenting the body before and after the snow was brushed off. As she tried to describe the cold weather that investigators faced while processing the scene, Wiehe was cut off by defense attorney Lyle Stohler.
"I had enough things on to keep myself warm. I think the scene was a little harder because the body wasn't able to be lifted off the ground, he was frozen to the ground and you try to remove a body without doing any damage to it. So the officers there were...," Wiehe said, stopping while Stohler announced his objection.
Stohler then had a private conference with Judge Gregory Heath and Palmer District Attorney Roman Kalytiak to explain the reason for his objection.
"What you're saying is there were some challenges with the weather," Kalytiak said after the conference.
The discussion of the cold conditions during the investigation seemed to strike a chord with the defense. Stohler later objected during an Alaska State Trooper's testimony that used the same description.
"When it was time to actually transport the body back to the roadway, for the SME to come and pick him up, the medical examiner, we found he was frozen to the ground," said Trooper Andrew Adams.
"I'm going to object," Stohler interjected.
"Basis for the objection?" Assistant District Attorney Melissa Wininger-Howard asked before the two attorneys again had a private conference with a judge.
Stohler did not give a public explanation in court for his objection.
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