Man involved in Grunwald murder case sentenced for federal drug charge

Devin Peterson (right) during arraignment following the murder of David Grunwald in late 2016.
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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - A young man was sentenced Monday in federal court for giving or selling drugs to minors.

Devin Peterson, now 20 years old, was sentenced to three years for the drug charge, but will spend nine years in prison because of its combination with his sentence for his involvement in a high-profile murder case.

Peterson pleaded guilty to charges of tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution in the death of 16-year-old David Grunwald in 2016. His involvement in that case includes hiding the murder weapon and helping torch the victim's Ford Bronco. Peterson admitted his guilt in those matters as part of his plea deal for the federal drug charges.

[RELATED: Trial begins for first teen accused of murder in Grunwald case]

The nine-year figure was reached after Peterson admitted his guilt to both the state and federal charges -- three years of the sentence are for the federal drug charge, and six for the state charge related to Grunwald's death, according to a sentencing memorandum in the federal case.

In in that memorandum, Peterson's attorneys wrote that Peterson was raised in a "dysfunctional family, and his gravitating toward consumption of drugs, and distribution of personal consumption quantities of drugs to peers and friends, is not entirely surprising."

The distinction of "peers" was important for the defense, as he was 18 at the time, and giving small doses of illegal substances to people in the same social circle, teenagers themselves.

The defense argued that Peterson wasn't an old, hardened drug dealer, but just a teen, at a party with other teens, using recreational drugs in "personal consumption quantities."

"At the time of the offense, Mr. Peterson had literally just turned 18 years of age, and he was in the company of persons who were his peers in the community" wrote John Cashion, Peterson's attorney.

"Mr. Peterson erred in providing drugs to other teenagers, but he himself was a teenager, and the persons in attendance at the gathering were making the same choices as Mr. Peterson regarding consumption of alcohol and drugs," he wrote.

As part of the plea agreement, federal charges of sexual exploitation of a child were dropped. Peterson had previously been charged with producing child pornography, for allegedly recorded the rape of an unconscious 15 year-old-girl by another man, 22-year-old Jordan Santistevan. The footage was discovered on Peterson's phone during the murder investigation.

Santistevan is scheduled to be sentenced in that case in June.



 
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