A 16-year-old boy apologized in a Willmar courtroom Monday for his role in the robbery and murder of a friend’s grandmother, a crime that will require he perform hundreds of hours of community service and remain on probation until he turns 21.
Devon James Jenkins, the youngest of three defendants charged in the gruesome stabbing and strangulation of Lila Warwick, 79, is the first of the teens sentenced for the attack that police and prosecutors contend was planned by her own grandson.
At the hearing in Kandiyohi County District Court, Lila Warwick’s daughter, Cheri Ekbom, asked Jenkins to make wise choices and learn from his mistakes. “Maybe it seemed like such an innocent thing to get in that car that night,” she said, according to her prepared remarks. “As a result of that choice, the life of a human being — my mother — was violently taken from us.
“It will also cost you five years of your life.”
Jenkins was accused of going with the alleged killer, Brok Junkermeier, 19, to Lila Warwick’s home in July and remaining in the car as a lookout. In December, Jenkins pleaded guilty to one count of unintentional second-degree murder.
Prosecutors allege that Lila Warwick’s grandson, Robert Inocencio Warwick, now 18, hatched the plan that led to Junkermeier’s attack, giving him information about his grandmother’s house and habits. Junkermeier allegedly slashed Lila Warwick’s hand with a swordlike knife and forced her to write him a check for $1,500 before choking and stabbing her to death, according to charges filed in August.
Junkermeier’s trial has been set for March. Warwick’s has not yet been scheduled.
According to the West Central Tribune, Jenkins told the court Monday that he had been using marijuana on the night of the murder and has been in chemical dependency treatment since October.
He apologized, the newspaper reported, adding, “I go to bed every night thinking about the awful things I did.”
Adult sentenced stayed
Judge Michael Thompson on Monday ordered that Jenkins complete a correctional program at Prairie Lakes Youth Programs, log 100 hours of community service annually and serve probation until age 21, according to court records.
As part of the juvenile sentencing, Jenkins’ adult prison sentence of 15 years was stayed. But it could be enacted if he violates the terms of his probation, which include remaining law-abiding. He must also refrain from drug use and will be randomly tested for illegal substances, court records say.
Jenkins is set to enter a secure correctional program at the Willmar detention facility for at least eight weeks, after which he could complete an unsecured program.
In the days after Lila Warwick’s death, her family, friends and fellow churchgoers remembered her as a dedicated worshiper, volunteer and grandmother who drove “Robbie” and his sister to school.
Daughter’s closing words
Ekbom, of Brooklyn Park, told Jenkins in court Monday that she does not hate him. “To hate you would bring dishonor to my mom and only allow the darkness … to continue,” Ekbom said. In closing, she said, “I am going to let my mom have the final word.”
She read from a keepsake booklet that Lila Warwick left for her loved ones.
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Treat people with kindness: rich or poor, black or white — all people. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and that He died for you. I want you to be in Heaven with me.”