Lead Investigator: Renfro went from potential 'best witness' to Grunwald murder suspect
After a more than two hour interview in which a cursing Bradley Renfro's emotions ranged from crying to laughing, troopers believed they might have found their star witness.
"I sincerely hoped that he could be the best witness in this case," Alaska State Trooper Sgt. Tony Wegrzyn said. "I didn’t know at the time what I know now, or what we even found out days later."
On Nov. 30, 2016, Renfro and his mother agreed to speak with troopers at the Wasilla Police Department. Renfro told his inquiring mother he did not need an attorney.
It was the teen's second interview with investigators following 16-year-old David Grunwald's disappearance on Nov. 13 and started out similarly to the first — with Renfro denying involvement or knowledge of what happened.
In the interview, Renfro told investigators he was picked up by Erick Almandinger and Dominic Johnson, driving Grunwald's Ford Bronco. At first he claimed he didn't know where the vehicle came from, then admitted he knew it was stolen, but insisted he never saw Grunwald that night and didn't know it was his.
The plan was to drink, party and then burn the Bronco, he said.
Renfro became agitated and tearfully told investigators he felt like he was being framed:
"I don’t want to be a f------ murder suspect like literally, that’s a f------ felony that I would f------ get. That I would kill this kid, I don’t know where he is. I don’t know who did it," he said.
During the first interview, Renfro admitted he was with Almandinger and Johnson when they got a cab ride away from the site of Grunwald's burned Bronco. In the second interview, he admitted he set the Bronco on fire.
Still, he insisted he had no idea what happened to Grunwald, who he repeatedly referred to as, "that kid."
“I don’t know where that freaking kid is," he said. "I don’t know, I don’t think — I don’t hang out with f------ killers, I sure hope I don’t.”
Renfro laughs about the notion that he might be in a gang. He theorizes with troopers about where Grunwald might be. If he had murdered someone, he explains, he would make sure the body was far away from the burned car.
With no evidence to make Renfro a murder suspect, troopers discussed using him to get confessions from Almandinger and Johnson through a glass warrant. But days later, on Dec. 2, in an attempt at self preservation, Johnson would lead troopers to where Grunwald was executed.
Before long, troopers would find out despite his claims of non-involvement, Renfro had been there too as Grunwald lost his life.
A third and equally long interview with Renfro is expected to be played for jurors Wednesday.
In the afternoon, jurors were offered the opportunity to dry fire the gun used to kill Grunwald, so they could understand the force necessary to pull the trigger. Three of the 16 jurors chose to participate.
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