PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) - The trailer where 16-year-old David Grunwald was allegedly beaten on the night of his murder was brought to the Palmer courthouse on Wednesday as an exhibit in the trial of 18-year-old Erick Almandinger.
No cameras were allowed in the courthouse’s rear parking lot as the jurors were taken outside to examine the trailer. Before that, a forensic scientist testified about the evidence that was found inside the trailer during the murder investigation.
Jamie Nadie, with the Alaska state crime lab, said investigators found several traces of blood in the trailer’s bathroom using two different tests: Hemo-sticks and Blue Star. They also noted the smell of cleaning supplies, something that one of the Alamdingers’ neighbors said he noticed as well.
“It was a really just a pungent smell of chemical and maybe like a plastic burning smell,” said Palmer resident Kyle Pratt. Pratt also recalled overhearing a conversation near the Almandingers’ home on the night of Grunwald’s disappearance.
"I was walking in from my steam house and I had my towel over my head and heard the conversation coming from underneath their carport and the light was on and I heard Rodney (Almandinger, Erick's father) say, 'You're going to have to call this boy's mother.' " Pratt said.
Prosecutors also renewed their focus on Almandinger’s 40 caliber Ruger pistol, particularly a small metal loop located at the base of the grip, which is possibly a lanyard holder. The Ruger was not the gun used to shoot Grunwald, but he was pistol-whipped during the altercation inside the trailer.
Day three concluded with testimony from David Evans. Grunwald picked Evans up from Pioneer Pizza on the night of November 13 and gave him a ride to Erick Almandinger’s house before he gave his girlfriend Victoria Mokelke a ride from her mother’s house to her father’s house. After dropping Victoria off, Grunwald decided to return to Almandinger’s home, where prosecutors say he was beaten inside the trailer, driven out to a remote wooded area and executed.
Evans does not face any charges related to the murder. According to his testimony, he never saw Grunwald after he initially dropped him off. Evans also says he never saw Bradley Renfro, Austin Barrett or Dominic Johnson -- three of the other suspects in the case -- at the Almandingers' home.
Prosecutors asked Evans numerous questions about the timeline of that evening, as well as his relationship with Almandinger, and showed the jury a number of social media photos showing the two of them displaying gang signs and wearing blue clothing, the color usually affiliated with the Crips.