Grunwald murderer assigned new attorney during sentencing
Nearly one year after his murder conviction Erick Almandinger has been assigned a new attorney during the sentencing process.
In May 2018, a jury convicted Almandinger of nine charges, including first-degree murder for the killing of 16-year-old David Grunwald.
Jon Iannaccone from the Kenai Office of Public Advocacy (OPA) was Almandinger’s defense attorney throughout the trial. State prosecutors say he left that position to work with the Kenai District Attorney's office.
Now, John Putikka from the Bethel OPA will be representing Almandinger as they proceed with sentencing.
At a status hearing on Thursday, Putikka said he was assigned the case at the end of March.
He said he’s only had one brief meeting with his client and asked to have 90 days to review the stacks of material and evidence that was presented during the trial.
“I’m in a unique position of being the least informed person in the courtroom,” Putikka told the judge. “I didn’t attend any of the other hearings or the trial, haven’t reviewed any discovery or witness interviews or any of that.”
Palmer District Attorney Roman Kalytiak asked the judge to delay sentencing until 2020 and have all the co-defendants sentenced together.
A jury convicted Dominic Johnson of nine charges, including first-degree murder, in December 2018. Suspects Bradley Renfro and Austin Barrett are scheduled to go to trial together in Fairbanks in August.
“Have all of them set for sentencing the same week,” Kalytiak suggested. “We already got a hint from the first set of motion practice that there’s going to be some finger-pointing and argument some people influenced others. I think having all the sentencings somewhat at the same time period provides rebuttal opportunities for those who are called the more mature people and significant players in this case.”
Judge Gregory Heath didn’t make a decision on a sentencing date but set another status hearing for some time in July or August.
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