Alaska man sentenced for 2016 killing of 16-year-old boy

Austin Barrett at his sentencing hearing in Palmer on November 20th, 2020. (KTUU)
Austin Barrett at his sentencing hearing in Palmer on November 20th, 2020. (KTUU)(KTUU)
Published: Nov. 23, 2020 at 4:04 PM AKST
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PALMER, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska man was sentenced to 65 years in prison with 20 years suspended as one of four defendants in the 2016 killing of a 16-year-old boy.

Palmer Superior Court Judge Gregory Heath on Friday sentenced Austin Barrett, 23, after he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. Barrett was also given 10 years of probation.

Barrett was the only one out of the four defendants to receive a plea deal. Heath had dismissed a murder indictment against Barrett after determining that officers violated his right to remain silent during an interview.

The victim, David Grunwald, was beaten in a trailer behind a home in Palmer, Alaska, in November 2016 before being driven to a river, where he was shot and killed, prosecutors said. His body was not found for 19 days.

Prosecutors presented evidence at trial that showed the four defendants partying together after the murder. Barrett had known his victim for about 90 minutes before the killing, prosecutors said.

Juries have already convicted Erick Almandinger, Dominic Johnson and Bradley Renfro of first-degree murder. They are currently awaiting sentencing.

“David had entered the devil’s lair and had no idea what was in store for him,” his mother, Edie Grunwald, said during a lengthy victim’s statement she read to the court Friday. “Ben and I think and we weep about our son getting pistol-whipped and driven to his death.”

Barrett apologized to the Grunwalds and all of their family and friends at the sentencing hearing on Friday.

“I regret what has happened and I realize it was completely wrong,” he said. “I apologize for my actions Alaska and I’m sorry Mr. and Mrs. Grunwald.”

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