WASILLA — All the evidence is in for Bradley Renfro’s case. Renfro is second to last suspect to be tried in the Grunwald murder trial, and the first to testify on the witness stand.
Renfro is currently facing nine charges tied to the disappearance and death of 16-year-old Mat-Su Valley teen David Grunwald in November of 2016. The charges include murder, kidnapping, arson, assault, evidence tampering, and vehicle theft.
Renfro and Austin Barrett are the last two suspects facing trial in the Grunwald murder case. Erick Almandinger and Dominic Johnson have both been found guilty of Grunwald’s kidnapping and subsequent murder.
Renfro’s case revolves around accomplice liability. His intent on that fateful night is the subject of debate.
Renfro’s defense attorney Chris Provost has argued that Renfro was just a scared bystander while Palmer District Attorney Roman Kalytiak argued that Renfro was a willing participant and part of the accused group of friends.
Provost filed a motion for acquittal. As the close of Wednesday’s deliberations, he made a simple and brief argument, asking the court consider whether or not the state presented enough evidence and proved beyond a reasonable doubt that his client was a willing participant.
“Now that the defense has rested, the only difference in arguments regarding whether the burden of proof has been met... on one or all of these counts, whether or not accomplice liability has been established,” Provost said during a livestream of the trial shared by KTVA.
Kalytiak’s argument was there was enough evidence for the jury to decide whether or not Renfro was an accomplice.
“Not much has changed other than the defendant took the stand. That’s a pretty big change and there could be disagreements in this courtroom whether he helped or hindered his cause by his testimony,” Kalytiak said. “But, he did fill in some gaps, he verified he was high and drunk during most of this. He told the jury that he lied extensively to the police and family members about the murder of David Grunwald.”
Kalytiak noted this could be an “all or nothing case” with the jury’s decision.
“Do they believe him and his stories and can they separate what he says is the truth from all the lies he’s told? Or are they gonna’ rely on the fact that he hung out with all these people before the murder and was with them at the camper, at the shed, in the garage, in the Bronco, at the murder scene, at Devin Peterson’s house, at the burning of the Bronco, partied with them afterwards…,” Kalytiak said.
Kalytiak’s argued that it should be a “pretty straightforward choice” for the jury.
“As the defendant had put it, for them to believe his side of the story, they have to believe him- which is gonna be a difficult endeavor for these jurors,” Kalytiak said.
Palmer Judge Gregory Heath said the court would stand by its previous ruling. He said that he agreed with both the state and the defense that it was a matter of accomplice liability. He said the evidence places Renfro at all the scenes of the various counts he’s charged with.
“He’s in the trailer, he’s in the car, he’s at the murder scene… he witnesses the murder, according to his own testimony. He’s present at the burning of the vehicle…,” Kalytiak said.
Heath said it will be up to the jury to decide.
“That is going to be the jury’s decision. They will have to weigh the credibility of his own statement that he did not have this intent; and the state will argue that all the facts and evidence put into play shows that he did have the intent,” Health said.
Heath told the jury that the evidence was completed for Renfro’s case and they were to return the following morning for juror instructions. He said they would get about two-thirds of the instructions prior to closing arguments and the rest after the closing arguments.Four names will be drawn and those people will be excused, according to Heath. He said the remaining members of the jury will begin their deliberation after that.
Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at firstname.lastname@example.org.