Willmar teen gets life for Warwick murder, says he's found God in jail
By Gretchen Schlosser, Forum News Service
WILLMAR, Minn. — As expected, Brok Junkermeier was sentenced to life in prison this morning for killing Lila Warwick last summer at her rural Willmar home.
The 19-year-old Willmar man read his own statement before Judge Donald Spilseth handed down the state-mandated guideline sentence for first-degree premeditated murder. Junkermeier said he’d found God in jail, and realized that Warwick’s last words, that she could help him, that God could help him, were true.
“If I had listened to her kind words, I wouldn’t be sitting here,” Junkermeier said to the hushed full courtroom. “I regret not using his (God’s) help when she offered it.”
The 79-year-old Warwick was found dead in her home on the east edge of Willmar on July 29, 2013.
Both Junkermeier and Cheri Ekbom, Lila Warwick’s daughter, referenced Junkermeier’s recorded interview, played last week for the jury trial before the teen changed his plea to guilty. Both noted that, in the interview, Junkermeier mocked Warwick’s offer of help, and then Junkermeier said that God couldn’t help him.
“That’s a lie,” Ekbom said. “Despite evil, God does care about you and God can help you. His name is Jesus.”
The prosecuting and defense attorneys praised Warwick’s family for their strength and courage, and Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank thanked the people of Kandiyohi County and law enforcement for their efforts in investigating the case.
“I have respect for the strength and courage and compassion the family has,” Frank said. “That speaks to the person that Lila was.”
Defense attorney Kent Marshall noted that it was incredible that the Warwick family has shown such grace. “Never in my 35-year career have I witnessed the grace and generosity of Lila Warwick’s family.”
Frank also alluded to the future, which could include one more murder trial for the Warwick family, that of 18-year-old grandson Robert Warwick, who allegedly planned his grandmother’s murder with Junkermeier.
“The family has one more trial, we ask them to be strong, they will have to be,” Frank said.
Warwick and Junkermeier were both indicted on first-degree murder charges in September for the killing.
Robert Warwick also faces the possibility of life in prison and was commuted to adult court with the indictment. He is held on $2 million bail in the Kandiyohi County. His next court hearing is April 23.
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.