Renfro names Austin Barrett as Grunwald's killer
During the fourth day of Bradley Renfro's murder trial testimony, Renfro said there was no discussion as Austin Barrett pulled the trigger of his 9mm gun and ended David Grunwald’s life.
Renfro and Barrett are two of four people charged with beating and killing the Palmer 16-year-old in November 2016. Erick Almandinger and Dominic Johnson have been convicted of first-degree murder in the case.
In interviews with troopers, Renfro previously said Almandinger was responsible before changing his story and naming Barrett as the killer.
Renfro, who turned 19 on Saturday, has been on the witness stand for direct examination by his attorney, Chris Provost, for more than 15 hours over four days.
The details of Grunwald’s murder were too difficult for his parents to hear. Edie and Ben Grunwald left the courtroom as Renfro described their son’s last moments.
“Austin, he didn’t say anything when he came up. He just racked the slide,” Renfro said. “He just shot David right there.”
Renfro said he heard Grunwald’s body fall to the ground and lingered at the scene longer than his co-defendants.
As they left Knik River Road, Almandinger broke Grunwald’s phone and threw it out of the window, Renfro testified. Renfro participated in the cover-up buy purchasing gas and lighting Grunwald’s Ford Bronco on fire.
After Renfro, Almandinger and Johnson got back to the trailer where Grunwald was pistol-whipped and cleaned it with bleach. Renfro said he stayed outside as the other two tried to scrub away Grunwald’s blood. They also burned a rug that was in the trailer.
Provost spent much of his time outlining all of the lies Renfro told investigators. Palmer District Attorney Roman Kalytiak capitalized on that during cross examination.
“How are these people [jurors] supposed to know when Bradley Renfro is telling the truth or when he’s lying,” Kalytiak asked.
“I explained why I lied already sir,” Renfro responded.
“So you’re just going to rely on those explanations? And they should too,” Kalytiak asked.
Renfro has repeatedly claimed he was scared because Barrett threatened his life if he talked to authorities. Renfro also said he was afraid of Johnson since he led the charge in the pistol-whipping.
Kalytiak showed Renfro photos of him hanging out with the other suspects after the murder, including one where he's holding up the ‘C’ gang sign for the Crips gang.
“What I’m asking you to do is explain to me why you are flashing a gang sign after you witnessed the bad guys, in your testimony who you described as Almandinger, Johnson and Barrett, pistol-whip and murder a young man. Why are you flashing a gang sign five days after the murder that traumatized you so much,” Kalytiak asked.
“I think I was trying to have them think I was along for the ride with this one,” Renfro responded.
Toward the end of the day, Kalytiak started to pick apart Renfro’s testimony about the events before Grunwald’s murder.
Renfro testified he was in a shed at his girlfriend’s house with Johnson and Barrett. That’s the same time and location where a cell phone video shows Johnson talking about hitting someone in the head as hard as he can.
Renfro said he didn’t remember Johnson making those comments. Two male voices can be heard in the background of the video but Renfro didn’t recall if he was one of them.
“You can’t tell,” Kalytiak asked.
“I think we had a voice recognition expert on that. No clarification, sir,” Renfro said.
“He said it was two separate voices, right? You got his report,” Kalytiak questioned.
Renfro responded, “Yes, I think he did.”
“Process of elimination. Three men in that shed, right? Dominic Johnson first, the main speaker. The other men were Austin Barrett and Bradley Renfro, right,” Kalytiak asked.
“That seems reasonable, yes sir,” Renfro said.
Cross examination continues at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday. The judge said he hoped to get the case to the jury by the middle of the week.
Jurors will be able to deliberate on Saturday if needed.
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