Change of plea, sentencing scheduled for final suspect in David Grunwald murder case

Austin Barrett, 22, will enter a change of plea and receive his sentence for his alleged involvement in the 2016 murder of David Grunwald. (KTUU)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The final of four suspects in the David Grunwald murder case, 22-year-old Austin Barrett, will enter a change of plea and receive his sentencing this coming week, according to court documents.

This turn of events alludes to a deal being reached between the prosecution and defense teams.

A trial judge ruled to suppress statements made by Barrett to investigators when he was first taken into custody in 2016. Barrett initially agreed to answer questions, but shortly after questioning began Barrett invoked his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Anything Barrett said in the hours of questioning that followed could not be used as evidence against him, resulting in the dismissal of Barrett’s murder indictment on Jan. 7, 2020.

Prosecutors were given until the end of Feb. to decide whether to re-indict Barrett. Defense attorney Craig Howard said if the case did move forward to trial, he would push for a change of venue to Fairbanks.

“(Barrett) doesn’t want to go to trial if he can avoid it. He wants to save his family a trial, he wants to save the Grunwalds another trial," Howard said during a hearing on Jan. 22.

The Superior Court hearing will take place in Courtroom 2 at the Palmer Courthouse, on Wed. Feb. 5 at 10:30 a.m.

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