FAIRBANKS (KTUU) - It was the final day of arguments in Fairbanks over the Bradley Renfro trial. After a four-hour closing argument from the defense and a short rebuttal from the state, Renfro’s fate was left in the hands of the jury.
Renfro has been on trial for the past six weeks for his alleged involvement with the murder of 16 year old David Grunwald in November 2016. Yesterday, the state gave its closing argument, leaving the defense with the majority of the court’s time.
Renfro’s defense, Chris Provost made the argument that there simply isn’t enough evidence to convict his client of being a murderer.
“The state saying, ‘we can’t prove the shooter, so it could have been him,’ -- well where’s the evidence?” Provost asked the jury, “Frankly, if you think about it, all of the evidence presented in a mountain of evidence, in a well-done investigation, there is none, zero, that connects him to being a principle.”
His closing was structured by going through what all the witnesses in the trial said about Renfro, including those called by the state.
“Not even the ‘others’ in statements from all the other witnesses and associates ever say that he participated in the planning, the beating, or the murder of David Grunwald.”
Provost also referred to other examples of witness testimony like the medical examiner called in by the state who couldn’t directly relate Renfro to the pistol whipping, or Christian Ward (Erick Almandinger’s neighbor) saying he never really saw much ‘gang related’ activity on Renfro’s part.
While he proceeded through his closing argument, Provost urged the jury to try and think about what they would have done in Renfro’s situation: 16 years old, homeless, from a broken family and with no one to turn to.
“It is essential to telling a story to put it in perspective,” he said, “When you hear him in these interviews, imagine being 16, not having an adult you trusted enough or could go to for help -- ‘what do I do in this situation?’”
He also reminded the jury that Renfro says he did the things he admitted to like suggesting a location to take David and getting the gas to burn the Bronco, which he admitted he lit the flame to as well, because he was scared of the other teens involved.
Provost pointed out that Renfro was the youngest and physically smallest of the four of them. He said that despite Dominic Johnson being a foot taller than him and about 270 pounds, he was also armed as was Austin Barrett.
At the end of his closing, Provost reminded that all the parties involved in the crime were just kids when it was committed.
“This trial will bring no closure for the Grunwalds. There is no justice for David,” he said, “but there is another young man now today, but at the time, another child as David was referred to at the time who, is hoping you will provide justice for him.”
After Provost wrapped up, Palmer District Attorney Roman Kalytiak had a short rebuttal. In it, he reminded the jury that there’s not enough evidence to make Renfro out to be the killer because the teenagers destroyed much of it.
He also pointed out the continual appearance of gang activity in the ‘tight-knit’ group of teens, and the continual use of marijuana.
But Kalytiak did agree with a point that Provost mentioned: that young people are often times more prone to peer pressure and doing reckless things. But he said it wasn’t an excuse for murdering someone.
The jury is set to deliberate the case on Monday.
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