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Ten jurors seated in first two days of murder trial

WILLMAR — Five more jurors were seated Wednesday in the Brok Junkermeier murder trial in Willmar, bringing the total to 10 chosen in two days of jury selection.

Junkermeier, 19, of Willmar, is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the July 2013 death of Lila Warwick, 79, of Willmar.

Warwick’s body was found the afternoon of July 29 in the basement of her home just outside Willmar. According to court records, she had been strangled and stabbed.

Junkermeier and two other young men were arrested and charged with being involved with Lila Warwick’s death. Junkermeier and Robert Warwick, 18, Lila Warwick’s grandson, were later indicted for first-degree murder. Robert Warwick’s trial has not been scheduled.

Devon Jenkins, 16, of Willmar has pleaded guilty in juvenile court to a charge of aiding and abetting second-degree murder. He is serving a sentence at Prairie Lakes Juvenile Detention Center in Willmar.

In jury selection Tuesday and Wednesday at the Kandiyohi County Courthouse in Willmar, potential jurors interviewed included 19 men and 18 women.

In cases of first-degree murder, jurors are interviewed individually about their knowledge of the case and whether they can set aside the knowledge to render a fair verdict.

About one-third of the potential jurors so far have been excused from service because they had read or heard about the case and had already formed strong opinions about it. Other jurors were excused for health reasons or because they knew someone involved in the case.

A group of six men and four women had been chosen to sit on the jury by Wednesday afternoon.

The group chosen Wednesday includes a woman who enters data in computers for an area business, a man who works for the city of Willmar, a woman who is a nursing student and works for a treatment facility, a man employed by a provider of nursing care and other support services, and a woman who coaches basketball and whose family operates a dairy farm.

Jury selection will continue this morning. Judge Donald Spilseth said he plans to have four more jurors seated today, resulting in a jury of 12 with two alternates.

Spilseth said the trial is likely to proceed with opening statements from attorneys on Friday morning. Testimony from witnesses is expected to last for about two weeks.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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