Parents of Alaska Teen Allegedly Killed for Smoking Friend’s ‘Weed’ Face Alleged Killers in Court

The parents of David Grunwald, the Alaska teenager allegedly kidnapped and killed by friends after smoking the “weed” belonging to one, came face to face with his alleged killers in court earlier this week.


On Tuesday, four of the five suspects — Devin Peterson, 18, Austin Barrett, 19, and two 16-year-old minors — all pleaded not guilty to playing a role in David’s death, Superior Court officials tell PEOPLE. (It is unclear if the two minor suspects will be charged as adults.)

During the arraignment, one of the minor teens appeared to address parents Edie and Ben Grunwald, who attended the hearing, eyewitnesses told the Alaska Dispatch News.

“He said, ‘What are you gonna do?’” Luke Smith, a private investigator who was seated behind the Grunwalds, told the outlet. “And then he paused and looked at them again and said, ‘Do something.’”

However, the suspect’s father told the outlet his son was actually addressing him: “He said, ‘What you gonna do, dad?’”

In an email addressing the hearing to PEOPLE, Edie Grunwald writes, “Just when we think we are having the worst day ever, we have an even worse day.”


Grunwald was allegedly beaten, kidnapped and forced to walk into remote woods where he was shot dead execution-style on November 13

On Thursday, David’s family held a small, private funeral. He was buried Friday at Ft. Richardson National Cemetery near Anchorage, while a friend will play taps on the bugle.

“David always wanted to go into the military,” Edie writes. “So it is good to be able to lay him there.”

The 16-year-old dreamed of being a pilot and following in his parent’s footsteps of joining the military. Edie tells PEOPLE she served in the military for 31 years while husband Ben served for 20 years.

David was reported missing on Nov. 13 after he didn’t come home after going to spend time with friends.


On Dec. 2, Alaska authorities recovered David’s remains in Palmer, Alaska, after Erick Almandinger, also 16, allegedly confessed to playing a role in his friend’s murder, according to an affidavit obtained by PEOPLE. Erick allegedly revealed David was killed by a friend for smoking all of his “weed.”

On Dec. 9, the remaining four teens were charged.

Peterson is charged with evidence tampering and hindering prosecution in the first degree. Barrett is charged with murder in the first degree, kidnapping, and murder in the second degree. The two 16-year-old suspects are charged with murder in the first degree, kidnapping, murder in the second degree, and evidence tampering.


David Grunwald with his girlfriend Victoria Danielle Courtesy the Grunwald family

Almandinger, who appeared in court on Monday, pleaded not guilty to murder in the first degree, kidnapping, murder in the second degree and evidence tampering, KTVA11 reports. He has been charged as an adult.

Peterson’s bail was set at $100,000, while no bail was given for the four teenagers charged with murder. Trials for all suspects were scheduled for late February, according to KTUU.

PEOPLE could not reach the suspect’s attorneys for comment.

As the case unfolds, Edie is trying to focus on positive memories of her son.

“Every time I hear a story about him, see a video, and think about him, our hearts feel like bursting,” she writes. “David is and always will be the love of our lives.”


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