Willmar trial: Man allegedly admitted he killed friend’s grandmother
- Article by: Jenna Ross
- Star Tribune
- March 31, 2014 - 9:10 PM
WILLMAR, MINN. – Two friends of the 19-year-old on trial for allegedly killing his friend’s grandmother testified Monday that he showed no remorse when he confessed to them shortly afterward.
In fact, they said, Brok Junkermeier seemed excited.
Junkermeier has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges for allegedly carrying out the July robbery and attack prosecutors say he planned with Lila Warwick’s grandson, Robert Inocencio Warwick, 18.
Morgan Hoffer, 20, told jurors in the Kandiyohi County Courthouse that Junkermeier stopped by the gas station where he worked and gave graphic details about killing 79-year-old Warwick. Snippets of that long conversation — secretly recorded by Hoffer on his cellphone — were played for jurors Monday.
“After a few minutes of kinda saying he didn’t do it, he started confessing,” Hoffer said.
Robert Plesha, an assistant attorney general, asked Hoffer whether Junkermeier appeared “remorseful in any respect.” No, Hoffer replied. “How did he appear to you?” Plesha asked.
“Excited, I guess,” Hoffer said. “Proud almost.”
Another friend, Tyler Stegeman, 18, testified that he got a similar impression from a phone call with Junkermeier on the day of Lila Warwick’s death. Asked whether Junkermeier felt bad about the crime to which he had just confessed, Stegeman said, “No. He seemed happy.”
Junkermeier told him “that he killed her, strangled her, stomped on her, stabbed her,” Stegeman said.
Three short recordings from Hoffer’s cellphone, which secretly captured his conservation with Junkermeier, were played for jurors. Much of the recording was muffled, but jurors were given a transcript prepared by prosecutors.
Both Stegeman and Hoffer told jurors that they had heard Junkermeier mention a plan to rob and kill Lila Warwick for the more than $30,000 they believed she stored in a safe. Junkermeier’s attorney, Kent Marshall, questioned them on that point, asking Stegeman why he told investigators he had never heard of such a plan in an August interview.
“I was scared,” Stegeman said.
Marshall also asked them why, if they heard Junkermeier’s plan, they didn’t alert the police, suggesting that, “you thought this was a bunch of fluff and nonsense,” Marshall said. In separate testimony, the two agreed with him.
Marshall has argued that while Junkermeier killed Warwick, that doesn’t mean he’s guilty of the two charges — first-degree, premeditated murder and first-degree murder in the course of a burglary.
Earlier Monday, a forensic scientist testified that blood was found in Lila Warwick’s garage, kitchen, bathroom and basement, where she was found dead.
Blood also covered the mouse and mouse pad near the computer where prosecutors say Junkermeier forced Warwick to check her online bank account, then write him a check for $1,500 before he strangled and stabbed her.
Mark Patterson, a forensic scientist with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, led jurors through video and photographs of the crime scene: Warwick’s home on the east side of Willmar.
A trail of blood droplets through the house mirrored the scene painted by prosecutors in opening statements Friday. They say Junkermeier ambushed Warwick in the garage with a 20-inch knife, cutting her hands before leading her inside.
She got blood on the first check, prosecutors said, so Junkermeier bandaged her hands before she wrote another. Investigators found bloodied paper towels in the kitchen and a box of bandages in the bathroom.
When prosecutors showed a close-up of Warwick’s body, blood coming from her mouth, Junkermeier turned his head and lowered his gaze.
Hoffer and Stegeman testified that in her final moments, Lila Warwick tried to convince Junkermeier that she could help him — that God could help him. “That he didn’t have to do this,” Hoffer said.
But Junkermeier responded that God is “not going to save her.”
Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168
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