Bradley Renfro is the youngest of the four assailants charged with the murder of David Grunwald. For much of the investigation, he seemed more a background player than an active participant. Alone among the defendants to date, Renfro decided to take the stand in his own defense. And, in that, the third member of the Knik River Bros. continued the narrative, suggesting he was “trying to fly under the radar” during the course of the murders, adding that “I think I was trying to have them think I was along for the ride with this one.”
Indeed, young Renfro played the innocent bystander role to the hilt. Under questioning by his defense attorney, Renfro claimed he was drunk and high on marijuana on the night of the murder. Claimed he was lying down in the back of Erick Almandinger’s trailer when Dominic Johnson attacked David Grunwald as he came out of the bathroom.
“It all happened so quick I didn’t know exactly what was going on. When Dominic, after he hit him a few times, David was like, crying, sobbing but quietly. Like shuddering, like he was trying to catch his breath,” Renfro said.
Renfro insisted he had no part in the pistol-whipping or execution. He said Johnson made him get fuel at the gas station to burn the Ford Bronco.
“He said that I hadn’t participated in this anywhere. He said I had to get the gas cans because it seemed like I didn’t want to be a part of it,” Renfro asserted.
And, like a cornered animal, Bradley Renfro started pointing fingers. During his initial interviews with Alaska State Troopers, Renfro claimed Erick Almandinger was the one who shot Grunwald. Faced with a Fairbanks jury that tried him separately from Austin Barrett, Renfro changed his story, insisting now that Barrett was the shooter, and that Barrett threatened his life if he talked to authorities.
“Right as he [Barrett] was coming around, he just kind of racked the slide and just put his arm up and he shot it… I didn’t watch David fall. I kind of heard it. It was right next to me, the flash [of the gun]…”Bradley Renfro, “Along for the ride,” Jacob Mann, Mat Su Valley Frontiersman, Oct 1, 2019
The prosecution asked the jury not to buy Bradley Renfro’s tale of woe. They insisted he was a willing participant, helping not only to make the decisions that sealed David Grunwald’s fate, but helping cover up the crime. According to the prosecution, it was Renfro who suggested where they take Grunwald to kill him. Photos taken by the Knik River Bros. after the crime show Bradley flashing gang signs just like the rest of them. He was a killer just like the rest of them, they said.
Prosecutors also introduced transcripts that showed Bradley Renfro was anything but the choir-boy he pretended to be on the witness stand. During the course of the Fairbanks trial, authorities recorded him in a jailhouse conversation with his stepmother. Here, Renfro unleashed a profanity-laced diatribe in full gangster howl.
“He [prosecutor Kalytiak] was saying stuff that was f—— b——-. And I can’t just be like, ‘Hey dips—, you’re f—— lying.’ I can’t say that s—, so I have to say, ‘With all due respect sir, that is an exaggeration.’ I have to say s— like that. I can’t be like, ‘Hey c—sucker,’” Renfro told his stepmother.Bradley Renfro, “Renfro makes profanity-laced jail phone calls during trial,” Heather Hintz, KTVA, October 2, 2019
On October 8, 2019, the Fairbanks jury found Bradley Renfro guilty on eight of the nine counts associated with the murder of David Grunwald. The only count they found not guilty was the initial assault of David Grunwald in Erick Almandinger’s grungy trailer. His sentencing awaits the outcome of Austin Barrett’s trial, after which all four Knik River Bros. will learn their fate.
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