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Crime & Courts

Defense rests in Grunwald murder trial without calling any witnesses

Erick Almandinger enters the courtroom in Palmer on Monday, May 14, 2018. He is the first of four teenagers who have been charged with the November 2016 murder of 16-year-old David Grunwald to go to trial. (Bill Roth / ADN)

PALMER — Erick Almandinger, the 18-year-old charged with murdering David Grunwald in November 2016, will not testify at his own trial.

Almandinger's defense attorney rested his case Tuesday morning in Palmer Superior Court without calling one witness — including his client.

Instead, attorney Jon Iannaccone made a motion for a judgment of acquittal on murder, kidnapping and assault charges, saying the prosecution hadn't proved Almandinger was "a principle" in the murder as an accomplice.

"They didn't prove … that it was Erick's purpose to kill David Grunwald," Iannaccone said.

Palmer District Attorney Roman Kalytiak responded that Almandinger provided another teen with the heavy gun used to beat Grunwald before he was killed, gave directions to the place he was executed and helped cover up the crime.

"All of them acted together as a group to accomplish this terrible deed," Kalytiak said. Almandinger later told an investigator the group decided after the pistol-whipping behind his house "to take David out because 'he knew too much.' "

Palmer Superior Court Judge Gregory Heath had not made a ruling by the end of the day Tuesday.

Grunwald dropped off a friend at Almandinger's the evening of Nov. 13, 2016, and came back to smoke marijuana, according to testimony during the trial. He was beaten on the head with a gun in a camper behind the Palmer house and driven to a remote spot near the Knik River where he was shot and killed.

Attorneys for both sides will work on jury instructions Tuesday. Closing arguments are expected to begin Wednesday morning. The jury could start deliberating by afternoon.

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