Four more people – including three more teenagers who apparently envisioned themselves part of some sort of Matanuska-Susitna Valley gang – have been charged in connection with the inexplicable pistol-whipping, abduction and execution-style murder of 16-year-old Palmer teen David Grunwald in November.
The teenagers are 18-year-old Devin Peterson of Big Lake, 16-year-old Bradley Renfro of Wasilla, and 16-year-old Dominic Johnson of Wasilla. All have been charged as adults.
Johnson appears to be the “DJ” identified in an Alaska State Trooper affidavit as the one who pistol whipped Grunwald in a trailer outside the home of Erick Almandinger in Palmer.
Almandinger was charged last week. Troopers say Almandinger indicated Grunwald was killed over some “weed,” but whether that was really the motive – if there was a motive – remains unclear.
Johnson’s Facebook page, which has now been taken down, showed him making the same sort of “gang” hand gestures Almandinger made on his Facebook page. The young men clearly imagined themselves part of some sort of gang.
Johnson has been charged with first-degree murder, three counts of second-degree murder, felony kidnapping and tampering with evidence, according to court records.
The affidavit of Trooper Sgt.Sergeant Tony Wegrzyn says Almandinger first claimed “DJ” was the one who shot and killed Grunwald with a single shot from a 9mm after the young man was marched into the woods off Knik Road.
But the affidavit notes Almandinger later changed his story to say “AB” did the shooting. AB would appear to be 20-year-old Austin Barrett who has now been charged with first-degree murder, three counts of second-degree murder and kidnapping.
Renfro faces similar charges.
The third teen to be charged, Peterson, appears to have entered the scene after the murder. He is accused of tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution.
Peterson and Barrett were in June among three Matanuska-Susitna young adults charged with kidnapping in connection with a bizarre case that allegedly involved in luring an Eagle River man to the Valley for sex with a 16-year-old girl.
Damien Peterson, Devin’s brother, told troopers the man had texted with the girl and drove to her Wasilla home, but showed up without any money. Damien and the two others were accused of then forcing the man, identified only as LM, to drive them back to his Eagle River home to get money and credit cards.
“Once inside, LM introduced Damien to his father and while Damien was shaking hands with LM’s father, LM produced a pistol from the dresser and ordered Damien to the floor, where he remained until APD arrived and arrested him,” the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman newspaper reported at the time.