Trial for Palmer man accused of murder began in Fairbanks today

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) Bradley Renfro, 18, of Palmer, is charged in the murder of David Grunwald in Palmer in November of 2016.

Bradley Renfro, 18, of Palmer, is charged in the murder of David Grunwald in Palmer in November of 2016. Renfro appeared in court today for the start of his trial. The prosecution and defense gave jurors their opening arguments. (John Dougherty/KTVF)

Renfro appeared in court today for the start of his trial. The prosecution and defense gave jurors their opening arguments.

"So essentially we will prove that they as a very close knit group destroyed David's life and forever changed the life of David's family and friends," said Roman Kalytiak, Palmer District Attorney.

The prosecution spent much of their argument describing the crime. According to Kalytiak, Grunwald spent the day of his murder with his girlfriend and then had dinner with his mother and father. After dinner he dropped his girlfriend off at her house and then went to meet with his friend Erick Almandinger at a trailer at his house.

The prosecutor said that Almandinger, Renfro, and the other co-defendants in the case, Austin Barrett and Dominic Johnson, where all close friends and tried to immolate the Crips gang.

Grunwald went to over to the house to smoke marijuana with the group. Shortly after he arrived, Kalytiak said that the group beat him with a pistol and then decided to kill him. They loaded David Grunwald into his Ford Bronco and drove him a remote part of the Matanuska-Susitna Valley and then shot him in the head.

According to the prosecution, Renfro was the one who suggested where they take Grunwald to kill him.

After killing Grunwald the defendants went and got gas cans. Kalytiak showed the jury surveillance footage of Renfro going into a gas station to pay for gas to fill them up. Later that night they took the stolen Bronco to a different location and lit it on fire. They then called a cab and went back to the trailer where the attack started to clean up the blood.

According to the prosecution, Renfro was a willing participant in the murder of Grunwald and helped make decisions and cover up the crime.

The defense disagreed with this conclusion.

“The State’s theory is, as you have heard a couple times now or more… can’t explain a motive,” said Chris Provost, the defense attorney. “I don't believe Bradley Renfro can explain a motive to you either. He had never met David Grunwald till he stepped into that trailer before."

While the defense doesn’t disagree that Renfro was there for the crime, they do contend that he was a willing participant.

Provost argued that Renfro was highly impaired and in and out of sleep when Grunwald arrived at the trailer where he was attacked. He said that Renfro was not involved in the attack and only went along in the Bronco because he was scared of what the group would do to him.

The defense told the jury that the prosecution has five or six, “bad facts” that paint his defendant in a negative light. However, once the jurors hear the full context, they will realize that Renfro was extremely intoxicated that night and afraid that the group would destroy him if he didn’t help them or snitched.

Tomorrow the State will begin calling witnesses and presenting evidence to support their case.

Two of the co-defendants. Johnson and Almandinger have already been found guilty of the murder in a Palmer court. The third co-defendant, Austin Barratt, will be tried in Fairbanks at a later date.

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