WASILLA — Bradley Renfro pointed to Austin Barrett as the one who fired the fatal shot that took David Grunwald’s life November of. 2016 during the fourth day of his testimony in Fairbanks, according to live footage shared by KTVA.
Renfro and 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.
During the initial interviews with Alaska State Troopers, Renfro claimed Almandinger was the one who shot Grunwald. Now, Renfro’s testimony centers on Barrett as the shooter, and subsequently threatening his life if he talked to authorities.
On Monday, Renfro’s defense attorney Chris Provost asked his client to describe Grunwald’s final moments in the dark, wintery woods off Knik River Road. They stood in front of a big poster board near the witness stand. Renfro drew each group member’s position with their initials, using a different color for each person.
Renfro drew Grunwald’s initials in the center with the group surrounding him. Renfro indicated that he was off to the left, in front of Grunwald.
Renfro said Barrett was to the right of him, facing Grunwald. He said that no one said anything, not even Grunwald in the final moments leading to the gunshot.
“Right as he [Barrett] was coming around, he just kind of racked the slide and just put his arm up and he shot it… I didn’t watch David fall. I kind of heard it. It was right next to me, the flash [of the gun]…” Renfro said.
The basis of Renfro’s defense is that he was scared of Barrett and Johnson after the murder.
Palmer District Attorney Roman Kalytiak cut right into Renfro’s alleged fear during his cross-examination.
Kalytiak used photo evidence stamped with creation dates to illustrate Renfro’s close association with the group before and after the murder. He argued that Renfro clearly looked like he was friends with Barrett, Johnson and the others; and he didn’t appear to be scared in the photos.
“You guys are documenting the history of the group,” Kalytiak said.
Kalytiak asked Renfro to identify people of interest in the photo evidence. Renfro claimed to have trouble recognizing anyone in the photos, including himself.
“Will you just give me a straight answer?” Kalytiak said.
“I don’t know” and “I don’t remember” were Renfro’s most common responses during the cross-examination. Kalytiak grilled Renfro on his lack of memory of the days surrounding the murder in spite of the detailed testimony he gave regarding the day Grunwald died.
“You don’t remember being with them in this photo?” Kalytiak asked.
Kalytiak asked Renfro if he was forced to flash the Crips sign with his “buddies” and Renfro said that he was just “trying to fly under the radar.”
“I wouldn’t necessarily call them ‘buddies’ at this point,” Renfro argued.
Kalytiak asked Renfro about what was going through his head on Nov. 18 ( just days after the murder) as he was throwing up “gang sings” with Barrett and Johnson.
“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 Renfro.
“I think I was trying to have them think I was along for the ride with this one,” Renfro said.
Renfro’s jury trial is set to continue this week.
Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at firstname.lastname@example.org