PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) - State medical examiner Dr. Kenneth Gallagher testifIed Friday morning in the murder trial of David Grunwald. He told the jury that despite seven massive blows to the head, Grunwald could have survived his injuries. Instead, after being hit several times, floating in and out of consciousness, Grunwald was eventually shot to death.
"Without the injury from the gunshot, with a reasonable degree of medical certainly, he should have been able to recover fully," Gallagher said on the stand, in response to the prosecutor's question.
David Grunwald, was reported missing by his parents on November 13, 2016. His parents had expected him home after he dropped his girlfriend off at her home. Grunwald's Ford Bronco was found burned near a trailhead on November 14.
His body was found December 2 near Palmer.
Gallagher testified that Grunwald was shot above his right eyebrow with the bullet exciting through the back of his head. Autopsy photos of Grunwald's hands showed bruises and cuts, as well as frostbite. Gallagher testified that the injuries were consistent with "defensive injuries" or "defensive postures."
Erick Almandinger, now 18, faces murder charges for his role in the death of his former classmate, when the two were both just 16 years old.
Almandinger is one of five young men facing charges in the case, although their trials are being held separately. Almandinger and three others face the more serious charge of murder, while a fifth pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution.
Almandinger's defense argued in opening statements that Almandinger's only crimes were committed after the murder, that the murder weapon was not his and that he was too scared to stop Grunwald's murder from happening.
Grunwald was a well-liked, clean-cut teenager from a nice family. During trial, the prosecution has painted Almandinger and his friends as wild, unsupervised teenagers who smoked marijuana and had an affinity to gang culture.
It's been reported that Grunwald went to Almandinger's house the night of his death to smoke pot and drink.
Edie and Ben Grunwald, David's parents, left the courtroom before Gallagher's testimony so they wouldn't have to see the pictures from his autopsy. Almandinger looked down at the table, never looking up, as pictures were displayed to the jury.
The testimony from Gallagher was over before lunch. The trial will continue on Tuesday.