PALMER, Alaska (AP) — A hearing for the first of four people set to be sentenced for the killing of an Alaska teenager has been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Dominic Johnson was scheduled to be sentenced during the hearing beginning Oct. 28, KTUU-TV reported Monday.
Judge Gregory Heath cited ongoing issues caused by the pandemic when he rescheduled the hearing to start Dec. 30.
Johnson was one of three men convicted of first-degree murder for killing 16-year-old David Grunwald of Palmer in November 2016.
A jury found Johnson guilty of nine charges in December 2018. He was the second member of the group to go on trial.
Erick Almandinger was the first to be tried and was convicted in May 2018.
Bradley Renfro was tried in Fairbanks because of the attention surrounding the first two trials. A jury convicted him in October 2019.
A fourth man, Austin Barrett, entered an agreement with state prosecutors in February and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
Grunwald was hit with a pistol outside Almandinger’s home in Palmer and then shot in the head in a remote area near the Knik River, authorities said.
The teen was reported missing Nov. 13, 2016, and his Ford Bronco was found burned the next day. Johnson led authorities to the body a few weeks later.
Grunwald’s mother, Edie Grunwald, said family members purchased tickets to travel to Johnson’s October sentencing. She said it has been difficult to have justice delayed.
“Everybody was real hopeful to get all of this done this year because people really want to get on with their lives,” Grunwald said.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.