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Willmar, Minn., teenager sentenced to juvenile center for role in murder of 79-year-old grandmother

WILLMAR, Minn. — The 16-year-old Willmar teen involved in the murder of Lila Warwick was sentenced this morning to programs at the Prairie Lakes Youth Programs in Willmar.

Devon Jenkins was ordered to complete both the secure and non-secure programs at Prairie Lakes, serve probation until his 21st birthday and serve 100 hours of community service each year as part of his juvenile sentence handed down by District Judge Michael Thompson in Kandiyohi County District Court.

Jenkins was given credit for 181 days he has already served at Prairie Lakes. He had pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

Under the extended juvenile jurisdiction program, the adult sentence, of 15 years in prison, for Jenkins was stayed and could be executed if he fails to comply with the juvenile sentence requirements.

Both Jenkins and his parents, Fred Jenkins and Vanessa Mitchell, asked Thompson to allow the teen to remain at Prairie Lakes, where he has been held since his arrest after the July 29 murder.

Jenkins told the court that he has been in chemical dependency treatment since October and admitted that he was using marijuana on the night of the murder. He outlined that he wants to complete the youth program, get his high school diploma, work with his dad in the drywall business and go to Ridgewater College to get his general classes.

He also apologized, choking up with tears in his eyes when he addressed the Warwick family. “I go to bed every night thinking about the awful things I did,” he said. “I couldn’t imagine my life without my mother.”

Warwick’s daughter, Cheri Ekbom, read her victim impact statement before the court, admonishing the young man, and his parents, to make wise choices with their lives and to know that they can accomplish their goals and be admirable examples for others.

“You made choices to be influenced by a friend,” Ekbom said. “Know that you have what it takes in life to make wise choices.”

During his plea hearing, Jenkins admitted that he waited in a vehicle while Brok Junkermeier, 19, of Willmar, entered Warwick’s home and allegedly stabbed and strangled her after making her write him a check from her back account.

Junkermeier and Warwick’s grandson, Robert Warwick, now 18, were indicted on first-degree murder charges in September for their roles in killing Warwick, 79, at her residence on the east edge of Willmar.

Court documents say that Robert Warwick was the alleged mastermind of the crime, motivated by a large amount of money he suspected was in his grandmother’s possession. The teens also allegedly returned to Lila Warwick’s home after the murder and stole a small safe and other items from the residence.

Both young men face the possibility of life in prison if convicted and both are currently held on $2 million bail in the Kandiyohi County Jail.  

Junkermeier’s next hearing is scheduled for Wednesday and a three-week jury trial is set to begin on March 25. There are no future hearings scheduled currently for Warwick, as District Judge David Mennis has taken under advisement a motion to suppress his statements to law enforcement.

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