BCA agents testify in Lila Warwick murder case
WILLMAR — Two state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agents and a Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s detective testified Monday about the statements Brok Junkermeier made to investigators about his role in Lila Warwick’s July 29 murder and the search warrant served on Junkermeier’s home that recovered Warwick’s property from the residence.
Junkermeier was described as cooperative during questioning and coherent in his answers to investigators’ questions.
The testimony was before District Judge Donald Spilseth in Kandiyohi County District Court during an omnibus hearing, a pretrial hearing to handle such matters as probable cause, evidentiary issues, admissibility, etc.
Junkermeier, 19, appeared at the hearing in blue jail clothing, wearing black-rimmed glasses and his hair cut very short.
Junkermeier’s attorney, Kent Marshall, had previously filed motions to suppress the admissibility of his client’s statements into evidence and has also challenged the probable cause, or legal basis, of the search warrant.
Marshall also requested that his argument to suppress Junkermeier’s statements be delayed until after Junkermeier’s mental competency examination is completed and Marshall can review the findings of that exam.
The examination was ordered Nov. 21 by Spilseth. According to information in the court file, the exam is scheduled for Dec. 19 and the report is due by Jan. 17.
The exam was ordered on the heels of a defense motion indicating that Junkermeier may rely on a defense that he is mentally ill or mentally deficient.
Junkermeier and Robert Warwick, 18, have been indicted on first-degree murder charges in the death of Warwick’s 79-year-old grandmother at her home along the east edge of Willmar. Both face the possibility of life in prison if convicted and both are currently held on $2 million bail in the Kandiyohi County Jail.
Warwick’s next hearing is Dec. 20. Junkermeier’s next hearing is Jan. 9 and a three-week jury trial is scheduled to begin March 24.
Robert Warwick was the alleged mastermind of the crime, and was allegedly motivated by a large amount of money he suspected was in his grandmother’s possession. Junkermeier allegedly entered the grandmother’s home and stabbed and strangled her after making her write him a check from her bank account. The teens also allegedly returned to Lila Warwick’s home after the murder and stole a small safe and other items from the residence.
The third teen charged in the case, Devon Jenkins, 16, of Willmar, faces two second-degree murder charges. Jenkins allegedly drove Junkermeier to Warwick’s residence and waited in the vehicle while Junkermeier assaulted and killed her. Jenkins’ adult certification hearing, to move his case from juvenile to adult court, is scheduled for Dec. 10.
Jenkins remains in custody at Prairie Lakes Youth Detention Center in Willmar.
Junkermeier and Warwick are being prosecuted by the state Attorney General’s office. Robert Plesha and Matthew Frank, assistant attorneys general, questioned BCA agents Ken McDonald and Nathaniel Brovold, along with Sheriff’s Office Detective Brad Redmond, during the hearing.
McDonald testified that he and Redmond went to Junkermeier’s workplace, the West Central Tribune, at 9 p.m. on July 31 to find Junkermeier. He said Junkermeier asked that he be questioned there, but then agreed to go to the county law enforcement center for questioning by the officers.
Junkermeier’s interview lasted three hours and 45 minutes, McDonald said, and then Junkermeier and officers went to a location in the country where Junkermeier had disposed of a knife and a sweatshirt.
McDonald called Junkermeier’s manner during the interview as “very low key” and “cooperative” and said that Junkermeier appeared to be mentally coherent and that his answers were appropriate to the questions during the interview.
Brovold, the lead agent for the BCA on the case, testified that as many as 20 officers were working on the case by that Wednesday, after Warwick’s body was discovered on a Monday afternoon.
Brovold testified that he was involved in an interview with a man who said Junkermeier told him about the murder. Brovold said that he assigned agents to interview Junkermeier and then prepared the search warrant for Junkermeier’s residence.
Redmond testified that he was present when the search warrant was executed, around 11:20 a.m. on Aug. 1, and that the officers attempted to find an unsecured door to the home before they forced entry into the home.