Defense objects to Snapchat video as evidence in final Grunwald murder trial
The remaining two suspects in David Gruwald’s murder don’t want a cell phone video used as evidence in their trial.
Attorneys for Bradley Renfro and Austin Barrett filed several motions as their joint trial approaches.
Renfro and Barrett will go to trial together in Fairbanks in August after the judge granted a change of venue motion.
Investigators discovered the Snapchat video two years after Grunwald’s murder, toward the end of Johnson's murder trial.
In the video, Johnson appears on camera and can be heard saying, “In the head, as hard as I can. Just to try to hurt him. Just to try to f---ing hurt him.”
The video was time-stamped three hours before David was pistol-whipped and executed on Nov. 13, 2016.
Voices can be heard echoing Johnson’s statements, but no one else is seen in the video.
Barrett’s attorney, Craig Howard, said in his motion that playing the video at trial would violate Barrett’s right to confront and cross-examine his accuser.
“Mr. Barrett lacked any knowledge the Video existed. He has not even viewed the Video,” Howard wrote.
Renfro’s attorney, Chris Provost, wrote, “[...] the court should find there is no reliable evidence that Bradley Renfro was present in the shack at that time or that he uttered the words spoken by the secondary voice.”
Another motion filed by Howard also asks that the state not be able to submit evidence of Grunwald’s “good character.”
In the first two trials, David Grunwald’s parents, Ben and Edie Grunwald testified about their son and the day he went missing. They described him as a teen who went to Bible camp and was a big Trump supporter with his own investment portfolio. Ben talked about David taking flying lessons.
Howard said the other defense attorneys didn’t question David’s character and therefore, that kind of evidence isn’t needed in the trial.
In his motion, Howard said if state prosecutors introduce evidence of David’s “good character” he plans to introduce evidence to the contrary that was collected after Alaska State Troopers seized David’s computer during the investigation into his disappearance.
Howard’s motion references evidence of David’s internet history on the “dark web” and photos of him smoking marijuana.
Provost filed a motion requesting prosecutors not be allowed to talk about a robbery Renfro referenced in one of his interviews with investigators or any other “bad acts.” He wants the state to redact those statements from any audio or video clips from the interviews they plan to play as evidence at trial.
Renfro and Barrett will be back in court for a status hearing on June 24.
Johnson and Almandinger are still waiting to be sentenced for their crimes. At a previous hearing, the Palmer District Attorney suggested the sentencing may not happen until 2020.
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