MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Willmar teenager who pleaded guilty to killing his friend’s grandmother has been sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Brok Junkermeier, 19, admitted to choking and then stabbing Lila Warwick at her home on July 29, 2013. He had hatched a plan with her grandson to steal her money.
He described his actions in court last week. He said after he forced her to write a check to him, he strangled her for 20 minutes. After that, he got a dagger and started stabbing her because, as he confessed, “I didn’t think she was dead.”
Bank security cameras caught Junkermeier cashing the check Warwick wrote to him. He told police he confessed because of the video evidence and he thought she had cameras in her home.
In court on Wednesday morning, Junkermeier asked for forgiveness from Warwick’s family. The victim’s daughter and two granddaughters also gave impact statements.
Erwin Pallakson, Warwick’s neighbor, was one of many who packed into the courtroom to hear the sentence. He says there is a void in his life now that Warwick is gone.
“My wife said she’s glad it’s over, but I said ‘It’s never over,'” Pallakson said.
He says he will follow the lead of Warwick’s family, who all said in court Wednesday that the victim wouldn’t want them to live life filled with negativity.
Ken Marshall, Junkermeier’s attorney, says he was moved by the statements made by Warwick’s family.
“Unbelievable grace and compassion, and I think it’s a testament to her and certainly her legacy that they’re able to stand up and say the things they did,” Marshall said.
He says his client has remorse for his crime.
“He knows what he did. He didn’t understand what he did and certainly probably most of us won’t ever understand that,” he said.
Marshall says Junkermeier’s videotaped confession haunts the teen.
“It’s almost incredible to him that he’s that person,” he said.
Junkermeier asked the family for forgiveness and told them he now has God in his life, something he believes Warwick would have wanted.
Warwick’s daughter says Junkermeier is also a victim, but it doesn’t excuse the choice he made to kill.
Devon Jenkins, who was 16 at the time of the incident, and Warwick’s grandson Robert Warwick, 17, were also arrested following the murder.
Jenkins pleaded guilty to being the “lookout” in the incident.