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Warwick attorney seeks to supress client’s statements

WILLMAR — The defense attorney for Robert Warwick wants a portion of Warwick’s statements to law enforcement officers to be suppressed, or not allowed, in his trial on first-degree murder charges for his role in the killing of his grandmother.

During Warwick’s omnibus hearing Friday, attorney Daniel Mohs questioned the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension ag-ents who questioned Robert Warwick at his home and at the Law Enforcement Center a few days after the death of Lila Warwick on July 29.

Mohs is seeking to suppress the statements Warwick made to BCA agents after he was told he was under arrest on homicide charges.

Warwick was advised of his Miranda rights at the start of the questioning, but Mohs is arguing that the boy should have been advised again of his rights after a break in the                      questioning when officers left the room.

Testimony on the matter was heard Friday during Warwick’s omnibus hearing before District Judge David Mennis, who will issue a ruling on the evidence after the attorneys have filed briefs with the court.

Mohs also indicated Friday that he expected he would file a formal motion for a change of venue in the case but that would hold off for a time, in part to gauge how much publicity is generated by the March trial of Brok Junkermeier.

Warwick, 18, and Junkermeier, 19, of Willmar, have both been indicted on first-degree murder charges for the death of Lila Warwick, 79, at her Willmar residence. Both face the possibility of life in prison if they are convicted and both are held in the Kandiyohi County Jail on $2 million bail.

Robert Warwick is 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 is alleged to have stabbed and strangled Lila Warwick after making her write him a check from her bank account. The pair allegedly returned to her home later and stole a small safe and other items. Some of the items were later found when law enforcement officers searched Junkermeier’s home.

A third teen, Devon Jenkins, 16, of Willmar, pleaded guilty last week to a charge of unintentional second-degree murder in the case. At the plea hearing in his case, he admitted he went with Junkermeier to Lila Warwick’s home and waited outside while Junkermeier was inside the home.

Jenkins will be sentenced Jan. 27 and will receive a juvenile sentence, under the extended juvenile jurisdiction program, until he turns 21 years old. He 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.

Derek Woodford, one of the BCA agents who questioned Warwick, testified during Friday’s hearing that he and Agent Michael Anderson advised Warwick of his Miranda rights and interviewed the boy Aug. 1 at his residence, with his mother present. They talked for a time before the boy asked that his mother not be present anymore. Warwick was 17 at the time of the crime and his case was moved into adult court when the first-degree indictment was handed down by a grand jury in September.  

Woodford said that he and Jennifer Warwick went outside of the house for a time while Robert Warwick continued to speak with Anderson inside the house. The boy then decided that he did not want to talk at the house anymore and agreed to go to the Law Enforcement Center and continue to talk with agents.

Woodford said that Warwick was reminded of his Miranda rights when the interview continued at the LEC and that the boy acknowledged that he understood his rights.

Warwick later asked the agents if he could stop answering their questions, Woodford said, to which they answered affirmatively, that he could stop when he wanted. But then Warwick continued to answer questions and asked the agents if he would be charged in the case.

The agents answered that charges would be up to the prosecuting attorney, Woodford said. When Warwick asked what charges he would face, the agents answered with homicide charges and told the boy he was under arrest. The agents then left the interview room for 20 minutes, conferred with BCA Agent Nathaniel Brovold and returned to ask Warwick more questions, but did not re-advise Warwick of his rights.

Brovold testified during the hearing that he drafted a search warrant for Warwick’s home in Willmar and that he was one of four agents who went to the home and collected nine items from Warwick’s bedroom, but nothing from the rest of the residence.

Warwick and Junkermeier are being prosecuted by the state Attorney General’s office, with Robert Plesha and Matthew Frank, assistant attorneys general, handling the case.

Junkermeier’s next court date has been moved to Jan. 29. He is also the subject of a mental examination, which was ordered Nov. 20. His attorney has filed a motion giving notice that Junkermeier may claim a defense that he is mentally ill or deficient. The report on the exam is expected by mid-January.

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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