Sudden guilty plea in killing of Willmar grandmother ends trial


Brok Junkermeier's decision Wednesday has been described as surprising and unexpected. But no matter which word is used, his murder trial in connection with the death of a Willmar grandmother is one thing: Done.

Junkermeier pleaded guilty to first-degree premeditated murder in last summer's death of 79-year-old Lila Warwick – a move the Pioneer Press says caught his own defense attorney off guard. According to the paper, the 19-year-old said in court he was guilty, and entered his guilty plea so the family wouldn't have to hear more evidence.

Defense attorney Kent Marshall called it a "complete shock," the Pioneer Press reports, adding he had intended to see the trial through.

The Star Tribune reports Junkermeier had previously pleaded not guilty to two charges: first-degree, premeditated murder and first-degree murder while attempting to commit burglary. He only pleaded guilty to the former.

First-degree, premeditated murder carries a sentence of life in prison. Sentencing is set for April 9.

Junkermeier's decision came one day after the jury watched a lengthy taped interview with the teenager, in which he described in detail how he killed Warwick, KSTP reports. The interview was given to police shortly after Junkermeier was arrested last August. He agreed to speak after being read his rights, the station says.

In the interview, KSTP says Junkermeier describes how he surprised Warwick – the grandmother of Robert Warwick, who's been accused of being the mastermind behind the murder plot – in her Willmar garage on the morning of July 29, cut her, and made her write out a check for $1,500. He then choked Lila Warwick until she fell unconscious, then stabbed her in the chest and abdomen.

Robert Warwick, 17, of Willmar, was charged as an adult with first-degree murder. He reportedly admitted to orchestrating the break-in by giving the other teenagers involved information about his grandmother's house and habits. His trial has not been scheduled.

A third person, 16-year-old Devon Jenkins, was accused of waiting in the car while Junkermeier killed Warwick. Jenkins pleaded guilty to unintentional second-degree murder in juvenile court, and was sentenced shortly after. He's on probation until the age of 21. He also must complete 100 hours of community service and complete some youth programs. If he violates the conditions of his sentence, he could face an adult sentence of 15 years in prison.

According to earlier court documents, Junkermeier and Robert Warwick planned the murder after the younger Warwick said his grandmother had a safe containing $40,000 in her home.

Earlier, the Star Tribune reported Junkermeier and the 16-year-old went to McDonald’s after the murder, ate and then went home. Junkermeier later deposited the check into his bank account. A search warrant executed at Junkermeier’s home found evidence of Warwick’s financial and personal records, bloody gym shoes, a safe and 30 $1,000 savings bonds in Warwick’s name stashed in a nightstand.

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