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Junkermeier admission to Warwick killing allowed at trial: ruling

WILLMAR — Statements that Brok Junkermeier made to police admitting he killed a 79-year-old Willmar woman in July will be allowed at trial.

District Court Judge Donald Spilseth has denied a motion by Junkermeier’s attorney to suppress Junkermeier’s statements to law officers in the July 29 death of Lila Warwick at her home along the east edge of Willmar. Spilseth also denied a motion to suppress evidence, including Warwick’s documents and a small safe that were found in Junkermeier’s home during the execution of a search warrant on the residence.  

In an order issued Wednesday, Spilseth denied the motion to suppress Junkermeier’s statements to law officers. Public defender Kent Marshall had argued that his client was not competent to waive his Miranda rights. The judge also denied the argument that there was not sufficient probable cause for the search warrant.

The judge’s order also provides details that have not been previously revealed in the case, including that Junkermeier, 19, and Warwick’s grandson, Robert Warwick, now 18, had allegedly been planning to kill Lila Warwick since December 2012.

The order also details that Junkermeier initially denied killing Warwick, claiming that Warwick’s $1,500 check that he deposited into his bank account later on the day of the killing was payment for doing chores and that Junkermeier said that he had left work at 2:30 a.m. and went home to bed on the night of the killing.

Both Junkermeier and Robert Warwick have been indicted on first-degree murder charges in Lila Warwick’s death. Both face the possibility of life in prison if convicted and both are currently held on $2 million bail in the Kandi-yohi County Jail.

Court documents say that 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.

Junkermeier’s next court hearing is Jan. 29. A report on a court-ordered mental competency examination of Junkermeier is due Jan. 17. Spilseth ordered the exam after Marshall filed a motion indicating that Junkermeier may rely on a defense that he is mentally ill or deficient.

Warwick’s case is at a similar position, with District Judge David Mennis taking under advisement an argument from Warwick’s attorney that Warwick’s statements to law officers be suppressed. Warwick’s attorney, Daniel Mohs, has also indicated that he would file a motion for a change of venue in the case.

The third teen charged in the case, Devon Jenkins, 16, of Willmar, has pleaded guilty to a second-degree murder charge. He will be sentenced Jan. 27.

Jenkins will receive a juvenile sentence, under the extended juvenile jurisdiction program, until he turns 21 years old. As part of extended juvenile jurisdiction, Jenkins will also receive a stayed adult sentence, of 180 months in prison, which could be executed if he fails to comply with the juvenile sentence requirements.

Jenkins is in custody at Prairie Lakes Youth Detention Center in Willmar. During his plea hearing, Jenkins admitted that he went with Junkermeier to Lila Warwick’s home and waited in the car while Junkermeier was inside allegedly committing the murder.

The order from Spilseth filed this week gives details about the audio and video recordings of Junkermeier’s interview with law officers. Junkermeier initially denied killing Warwick. He later acknowledged that he killed Warwick after the law officers interviewing him told him they knew he had killed her. The officers had received information from a man whom Junkermeier had told many details of the murder, which matched what was discovered at the crime scene.

After admitting that he killed Warwick, Junkermeier then gave details about the murder and what he had done with the safe that he took from her residence to his home, the order states. He also took the officers to the location where he had discarded the sword-type knife used in the crime and the clothing he wore during the killing.

In a memo attached to the order, Spilseth noted that Junkermeier has presented “no evidence which would indicate the Defendant was suffering from mental deficiencies and/or mental illness” when Junkermeier waived his Miranda rights and gave statements to the law officers.

The memo continues, noting that Junkermeier was “lucid, coherent and cooperative” during his interrogation and that Junkermeier responded appropriately to the questions posed by the officers, expressing his answers through complete, detailed sentences.

Spilseth also notes that “the Defendant’s contention that he was suffering from mental deficiencies and/or mental illness at the time of the Defendant’s interrogation is also undermined by the fact that (he) demonstrated the cognitive wherewithal to deny any involvement in the victim’s death by providing (the officers) with a detailed alibi.”

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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