In Palmer teen’s murder, one of four convicted killers gets 99 years behind bars

Erick Almandinger, right, enters a Palmer courtroom after a short recess in his trial Wednesday, May 30, 2018. (Casey Grove/Alaska Public Media photo)

The first of four men charged as teenagers and convicted of murdering 16-year-old Palmer resident David Grunwald in 2016 has been sentenced to 99 years in prison.

Erick Almandinger, now 22, was also just 16 when Grunwald went missing in November 2016, kicking off a massive search effort in the Palmer area. The searchers found Grunwald’s burned Ford Bronco, but it wasn’t until more than two weeks later that one of Almandinger’s accomplices led Alaska State Troopers to Grunwald’s body, and Almandinger was charged in the murder along with three others.

That’s according to testimony in Almandinger’s trial, which ended with a jury convicting him of murder, kidnapping and arson.

There was never a clear motive for the killing. Prosecutors said the group of teens — including Almandinger, Austin Barrett, Bradley Renfro and Dominic Johnson — lured Grunwald to a trailer at Almandinger’s house, where they decided to attack him, beating Grunwald with a heavy pistol.

That’s when the group decided to take Grunwald to a secluded spot in the Butte area just south of Palmer, where one of them fatally shot him, the prosecutors said.

A judge handed down the 99-year sentence for Almandinger on Monday, according to the state Department of Law. According to the Anchorage Daily News, he will be more than 50 years old when he is eligible for parole.

While Almandinger was the first to stand trial, he is the third to be sentenced.

Barrett pleaded guilty and received a sentence of 45 years in prison. Juries convicted Johnson, who was sentenced to 99 years, and Renfro, who is set for sentencing this week starting Wednesday.

Casey Grove is host of Alaska News Nightly, a general assignment reporter and an editor at Alaska Public Media. Reach him at Read more about Casey here

Previous articleAlaska Federation of Natives convention will be held in person for the first time since 2019
Next articleAlaska News Nightly: Monday, August 8, 2022