One of three teens pleads guilty in death of Willmar, Minn., grandmother
WILLMAR – One of three teens charged in the killing of a Willmar woman last summer has pleaded guilty.
Devon Jenkins, 16, of Willmar, pleaded guilty Tuesday to a charge of unintentional second-degree murder for his role in the July 29 killing of Lila Warwick at her Willmar residence.
Under questioning by District Judge Michael J. Thompson, Jenkins told the court he was a passenger in the car Brok Junkermeier drove to Warwick’s home during the early morning hours of July 29 after the two teens had been smoking marijuana.
Jenkins said that Junkermeier had a mask, gloves and an 8-inch to 1-foot-long sword with him and told Jenkins “he was going to steal from her and kill her.” Jenkins told the court he stayed in the car while Junkermeier went into Lila Warwick’s house, but he knew Junkermeier was at least going to rob Warwick or burglarize her home.
Jenkins said he smoked more marijuana and watched videos on his phone before falling asleep waiting for Junkermeier. The teen woke as Junkermeier was returning to the vehicle, he said.
“He was bloody from the incident,” Jenkins said, noting that Junkermeier told him that Lila Warwick was dead.
Jenkins said he thought Junkermeier was “just boasting” about killing Warwick. “I didn’t think any of this was going to happen,” he said.
As part of a plea agreement reached in Kandiyohi County District Court, Jenkins will receive a juvenile sentence, under the extended juvenile jurisdiction program, until Jenkins turns 21 years old. As part of extended juvenile jurisdiction, Jenkins will also receive a stayed adult sentence of 15 years in prison. He could be ordered to serve it if he fails to comply with the juvenile sentence requirements.
Jenkins was ordered to remain in custody at Prairie Lakes Youth Detention Center in Willmar.
Junkermeier, 19, of Willmar, and Lila Warwick’s grandson, Robert Warwick, 18, also of Willmar, have been indicted on first-degree murder charges. Both face life in prison if convicted. They remain in custody in the Kandiyohi County Jail on $2 million bail.
Robert Warwick is accused of being the mastermind behind the killing, allegedly motivated by a large amount of money he suspected was in his 79-year-old grandmother’s possession. Junkermeier is alleged to have stabbed and strangled her after making her write him a check from her bank account.
Junkermeier and Warwick allegedly returned to Lila Warwick’s home later and stole a small safe and other items. Some of the items were found when law enforcement officers searched Junkermeier’s home.
Lila Warwick’s body was discovered after she missed a meeting at her church and law enforcement was asked to check on her. An autopsy showed she had been stabbed and strangled to death.
Jenkins said during questioning in Tuesday’s plea hearing that Junkermeier sat in the vehicle for a little while before entering Warwick’s home and seemed nervous, offering Jenkins $5,000 to come along into the house.
“I didn’t want to involve myself in the crime,” Jenkins said. “I was against it.”
Jenkins also said he now feels his questions to Junkermeier, including rhetorical questions about if Junkermeier was actually going to do it and why they were at the house if Junkermeier wasn’t going to go inside, may have pushed Junkermeier to go ahead with it to save face.
At the end of Tuesday’s hearing, Jenkins apologized to everyone in the courtroom.
“I’m truly sorry,” he said. “It was never my intention. I’m trying to be a man and accept the fact that I did wrong. I’m truly deeply sorry.”
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