Trial date uncertain for final 2 suspects in Grunwald murder case
The trial for murder suspects Austin Barrett and Bradley Renfro likely won't begin until late 2019.
They're two of four suspects accused of beating and killing Palmer teenager David Grunwald in November 2016. A jury convicted co-defendant Erick Almandinger of first-degree murder earlier this year; Dominic Johnson is currently in trial for the same crimes.
The pair had a pre-trial conference Wednesday morning. At this point, Barrett and Renfro are expected to go to trial together unless one of their attorneys files a motion to give one of the suspects their own trial, which was the case for Almandinger and Johnson.
Judge Gregory Heath said all motions need to be filed by Jan. 30.
Renfro's attorney, Chris Provost, said Renfro is his only client at this point.
Barrett's attorney, Craig Howard, called into the proceeding and told the court he had a full plate with several upcoming murder trials next year in four communities around the state, including Fairbanks and Kodiak.
"I think this is going to require a six- to seven-week block if we're still joined," Howard said over the phone. "The math that comes out to me is I'm looking at the end of August."
Palmer District Attorney Roman Kalytiak said the defense attorneys should get their motions filed before a trial date was set.
"We would like to know whether there's going to be a motion for severance," Kalytiak said. "We want to know if we're litigating a motion for a change of venue, because that keeps changing with the amount of trials we do in Palmer."
To complicate matters, Judge Heath is retiring at the end of the year. He is still able to come back to preside over the other suspects' trial, however.
Heath said he was reluctant to set a trial date for Renfro and Barrett and instead set an evidentiary hearing for the week of March 4, 2019.
"We can resolve all the pre-trial motions, we can talk about the venue issue and so forth at that time," Heath said.
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