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Junkermeier sentencing is today

WILLMAR –– Sentencing is scheduled for 9 a.m. today for Brok Junkermeier, who pleaded guilty last week to first-degree premeditated murder in the slaying of Lila Warwick, a 79-year old grandmother and church volunteer from Willmar.

Junkermeier, 19, is expected to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

He has been in the Kandiyohi County Jail since he was arrested two days after Warwick was found dead in the basement of her home on the east edge of Willmar in July of last year.

At the hearing, prior to being formally handed his sentence, Junkermeier will listen to the victim impact statements from Warwick’s family.

A jury trial was underway last week in the Kandiyohi County Courthouse before proceedings were suddenly stopped when Junkermeier surprised the court by pleading guilty to the most serious charge.

When he took the stand, Junkermeier said he wanted to spare Warwick’s family from seeing and hearing more evidence, which had already included a four-hour video-taped interview with investigators where Junkermeier told step-by-step details of how he strangled and stabbed Warwick after making her write a check for $1,500.

The family –– and jurors –– had also been shown a hefty dagger that was used to stab Warwick. Junkermeier led authorities to the rural Kandiyohi County location where he’d tossed the sword and the sweatshirt he was wearing at the time of the murder.

When repeatedly questioned by his own attorney, Kent Marshall, and District Court Judge Donald Spilseth about the consequences of pleading guilty, Junkermeier said he knew he would spend the rest of his life in prison.

He told the court he was guilty and that he wanted to “own up” to the crime, which he said included eight months of planning the murder with his friend, Warwick’s grandson, Robert Warwick.

A second charge of first-degree murder without premeditation, which would’ve included the possibility of parole after 30 years in prison, was dismissed.

In an interview last week, Marshall said he is troubled by a life-without-parole sentence.

“I think it’s wrong for a system to tell people that they can never me reformed and that they can never be made a decent part of society,” Marshall said.

“Brok Junkermeier did a very horrible thing, but that doesn’t mean he’s a horrible human being,” Marshall said last week. “I think there’s a lot of good to him and I’ve simply encouraged him to try to use that goodness in the life he’s going to have now.”

Robert Warwick, 18, is also charged with two counts of first degree murder for allegedly planning the death of his grandmother.

His next court hearing is April 23 and his trial dates have not been set.

Warwick’s attorney, Daniel Mohs, has said in court that he intends to file a motion for a change of venue to move his client’s trial away from Willmar.

The third teen charged in the case, Devon Jenkins, 16, of Willmar, pleaded guilty in December to aiding and abetting second-degree murder. Jenkins was sentenced to the Prairie Lakes Youth Program, will serve probation until his 21st birthday and must complete 100 hours of community service each year as part of his juvenile sentence.

Under the extended juvenile jurisdiction program, Jenkins’ adult sentence, of 15 years in prison, was stayed but could be executed if he fails to comply with the juvenile sentence requirements.

Gretchen Schlosser contributed to this report.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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