Bradley Renfro found guilty of murdering David Grunwald
A jury has found Bradley Renfro guilty of murdering David Grunwald.
It took the 12 jurors around a day and a half to reach their decision.
They convicted Renfro of the following charges: first-degree murder, three counts of second-degree murder, kidnapping, tampering with evidence, vehicle theft and arson. The jury found Renfro not guilty of assault.
Renfro is the third person to be tried for killing Grunwald on Nov. 13, 2016.
Investigators say Renfro was part of a group of four young men who pistol-whipped the Palmer teen then drove him to the woods off Knik River Road and executed him. Evidence shows the group burned Grunwald’s Bronco, then tried to clean up the pistol-whipping crime scene.
Erick Almandinger was convicted of Grunwald’s murder in May 2018; a jury found Dominic Johnson guilty of the same charges in December 2018.
The judge moved Renfro’s trial to Fairbanks because the publicity surrounding the first two made it difficult to find an impartial jury.
The change of venue wasn’t the only difference in Renfro’s trial. He was the first suspect to take the witness stand and tell his side of the story.
Defense Attorney Chris Provost spent three days going over Renfro’s interviews with troopers, outlining all of the lies he told them during the investigation. Palmer District Attorney Roman Kalytiak told the jury during closing arguments that Renfro’s lies showed his testimony — his fourth story — wasn’t credible.
Renfro also made two profanity-laced phone calls from jail during the final days of his trial. The recordings were played for the judge who decided not to play the calls for the jury.
Following the verdict announcement Tuesday, Grunwald's mother Edie said it was difficult to hear Renfro testify.
"We always learn new stuff about what happened to David," she said. "If some of the stuff he said was true, which some of it probably was mixed in with the other stuff, it was extremely hard to listen to some of the things he said about David.”
The wait for a verdict in this trial was longer than both Almandinger and Johnson — those verdicts were delivered after less than a day of deliberation.
“We just had to wait all that extra time and it just seemed a little more higher anxiety," Edie said. "Plus the defendant testified this time which was different than the other two times. All we could really do is pray the jury saw the truth in everything.”
In the end, the jury's decision was welcome news to the family.
“We’re pretty relieved we’ve got the third one down. We’re getting closer. It’s been two years and almost 11 months and the justice wheel is just slow to turn. We’re here for the whole thing,” she said.
Judge Gregory Heath will be the one to decide how much time Renfro will spend in jail for his crimes.
Sentencing is a lengthy process, however. More than a year later, Almandinger and Johnson are still waiting to be sentenced for their roles. Judge Heath has said in the past he would like to have all of the trials completed before he makes a decision.
The fourth suspect, Austin Barrett, is currently scheduled to go trial in April 2020.
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