(Palmer, AK)—Palmer resident Bradley Renfro was sentenced today to 105 years and to serve 75 years for the kidnapping and murder of 16-year-old David Grunwald.
Renfro is the last defendant to be sentenced of the four teenagers who were charged with the November 2016 murder. In May 2018, Renfro was convicted by a Palmer jury of eight charges, including murder, kidnapping, and arson. Renfro was 16 at the time of the crimes.
Court proceedings indicate that Renfro arrived at the property when three friends used a pistol to beat Grunwald. On Nov. 13, 2016, Grunwald was pistol whipped in a camper behind co-defendant Erick Almandinger’s home. Grunwald was then driven for nearly half an hour in his own vehicle, walked into the woods near the Knik River and executed. Renfro offered suggestions on where the murder should take place.
Following the murder, Renfro planned to destroy evidence and bought gasoline to burn Grunwald’s vehicle. The vehicle was discovered burned, miles away near the Talkeetna Mountains. Grunwald’s body was found nineteen days later after co-defendant Dominic Johnson led law enforcement to the area.
During sentencing, retired Palmer Superior Court Judge Gregory Heath remarked on Renfro’s and the three co-defendants’ crimes: “I can’t see why they did this, other than they have no value for life.” Judge Heath found that Grunwald was driven for nearly half an hour and emotionally tortured. Judge Heath said the crimes warranted a severe sentence reflecting general deterrence, reaffirmation of societal norms, and community condemnation. In his final statement prior to sentencing, Judge Heath remarked “to walk someone in the woods and execute them, it takes a darkness in these boys”.
The judge sentenced Renfro to:
- 90 years with 30 years suspended to serve for murder in the first degree
- 10 years for kidnapping (10 years to serve consecutively)
- 5 years for tampering with physical evidence
- A $2,500 fine for arson
- A $2,500 fine for vehicle theft in the first degree
The total composite sentence for Renfro is 105 years to serve. He will be eligible for parole after 35 years at age 51.
Palmer District Attorney Melissa Wininger-Howard began prosecuting the case six years ago with now retired District Attorney Roman Kalytiak. Wininger-Howard argued for the maximum sentence to be imposed for each crime for a total of 209 years to serve. Renfro’s defense argued for a lighter sentence citing peer pressure and arguing that Renfro was not the one to shoot Grunwald. Wininger-Howard replied “he believes his inaction is the extent of his involvement and has not taken responsibility for what he has done.”
The three other co-defendants were sentenced. Erick Almandinger received a sentence of 99 years to serve for first-degree murder, Dominic Johnson received a sentence of 99 years to serve for first-degree murder, and Austin Barrett received a sentence of 45 years for second-degree murder following a plea deal.
In a prepared statement to Renfro, Grunwald’s aunt Kathryn Mayo said, “no matter what you did do or didn’t do, you killed David.”
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