Jury selection begins today in Junkermeier murder trial
WILLMAR — Jury selection is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. today in the first-degree murder trial of Brok Junkermeier.
Junkermeier allegedly entered Warwick’s home and stabbed and strangled her after making her write him a check from her bank account. He and Robert Warwick, 18, Lila Warwick’s grandson, allegedly returned to her home later the same day and stole a small safe. Documents from her home were found when law enforcement officers served a search warrant on Junkermeier’s home.
No trial date has been set for Robert Warwick. Court papers refer to him as the mastermind behind a plot to murder his grandmother and steal money he believed she had at her home.
In a pre-trial hearing Monday, lawyers for the prosecution and defense discussed several issues related to the trial. The trial at the Kandiyohi County Courthouse in Willmar is expected to last about three weeks.
Lawyers spent about 25 minutes of the 45-minute hearing speaking with Judge Donald Spilseth in chambers. Junkermeier joined them in the judge’s chambers for about 15 minutes. Otherwise, he sat quietly at the defense table.
The tall, slender defendant was dressed in a baggy dark blue jail jumpsuit over an orange sweatshirt. He wore glasses, and his hair was cut short.
Junkermeier has been held in the Kandiyohi County Jail on $2 million bail since he was arrested in early August last year. If convicted of first-degree murder, he faces a sentence of life in prison.
Spilseth signed an order giving limited immunity to a friend who allegedly heard conversations between Junkermeier and Robert Warwick. Warwick is also in custody at the jail on $2 million bail.
Matthew Frank, an assistant attorney general who is prosecuting Junkermeier, referred to the witness as a “co-conspirator,” but defense attorney Kent Marshall objected to that characterization. “No one is charged with conspiracy,” he said.
The friend allegedly heard the two defendants discussing the murder before and after it occurred, and had already received immunity to testify before the grand jury that indicted Warwick and Junkermeier.
Attorneys agreed to excuse more than a dozen jurors based on the answers they gave on juror questionnaires. The rest will be interviewed one at a time this week to choose a 12-member jury plus alternates.
Marshall said he had removed the defendant’s father, Bradley Junkermeier, a local attorney and public defender, from his witness list.
The parties also agreed that a statement Brok Junkermeier made during the investigation of Lila Warwick’s murder will be admitted, with some redactions. The specifics of the statement were not discussed Monday.
They agreed to sequester witnesses, meaning they won’t be allowed to observe the trial until after they have testified. Jurors will also be sequestered during deliberations.
A third defendant, Devon Jenkins, 16, pleaded guilty in December to a juvenile charge of aiding and abetting second-degree murder. He is serving a sentence at the Prairie Lakes Juvenile Detention Center in Willmar and will be on probation until his 21st birthday.