Day 2: Jurors hear recordings of murder suspect David Jungerman, view city traffic surveillance videos
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - Jurors will be back in court Thursday morning to hear additional testimony against murder suspect David Jungerman.
Jungerman is charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action for the fatal Oct. 2017 shooting of Kansas City attorney Tom Pickert.
For the second day in row, jurors heard recordings of Jungerman in his own words. One recording included an audio interview from Kansas City Star reporter Ian Cummings. He interviewed Jungerman after Pickert’s 2017 homicide. Another recording showed video of Jungerman inside a police interview room.
In the police interview room video recording, Jungerman is seen doing what appeared to be calf raises or exercises while waiting for police to return to the room.
Jungerman voluntarily agreed to an interview with police during the investigation into Pickert’s homicide.
Prosecutors asked Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department Detective Nathan VanVickle to describe Jungerman’s actions while he was left alone inside the police interview room.
The muffled audio included Jungerman saying something to the effect of, “If they let you out, keep your [expletive] mouth shut.”
“Among the things he said under his breath was: ‘Keep your [expletive] mouth, f-ing mouth, if they let me out, keep your mouth shut.’ Correct?” Assistant Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Dollar asked VanVickle. He responded, “Correct.”
Jungerman’s defense attorney argued Jungerman did exercises in the video because of health conditions.
“Keep your mouth shut. Keep your mouth shut. You don’t know what he was thinking in his own mind when he said that correct?,” Attorney for Defendant Daniel Ross asked VanVickle. “Were you aware he was involved in a civil lawsuit? Was he referring to that perhaps?”
VanVickle responded, “I don’t know.”
The majority of Wednesday’s testimony and cross-examination focused on methodically reviewing multiple city traffic and KCATA bus surveillance video recordings of a white van from the morning of Pickert’s 2017 homicide. The videos were captured by traffic cameras along the most direct route from Jungerman’s home to the crime scene and back. Prosecutors say the videos show a white van with several distinct characteristics that are similar to characteristics of Jungerman’s white van, including cosmetic damage, a bug screen/shield and black strips along the van.
“That van was coming from the direction of Mr. Jungerman’s home, is that right? It was going toward the direction of the crime scene?” Dollar asked VanVickle about the video surveillance of a white van. VanVickle replied yes to both questions.
Jungerman’s defense team argued hundreds of white vans travel that same route. “There is no way to identify this white van as David Jungerman’s is there?” Ross asked. “Not in this video right here,” VanVickle responded, referencing an exhibit that was on display.
Jurors also heard portions of the audio interview with Cummings, who previously interviewed Jungerman.
“He told you that he was annoyed and indignant about being accused of murder,” Ross asked. “He told you even his friends were walking away because of the accusations by police.”
Cummings agreed with both statements.
Jungerman’s van was seized by police after it was discovered parked near trees not far from his Raytown home. The state and defense teams disagreed on whether there was any attempt by Jungerman to conceal the van’s location from investigators.
“That’s the van he was saying to you was over in the woods that morning, and the second thing he tells you is that he and he alone is the only one with the keys?” Dollar asked Cummings. He responded yes.
None of the traffic or bus surveillance videos captured a clear image of the license plate on the white van in question that was recorded the morning of the homicide on several surveillance cameras.
At the time of the 2017 homicide, Kansas City police did not have the current, larger number of license plate readers that are now placed at various city traffic locations around KC. In 2017, Kansas City police license plate readers were attached to patrol vehicles. The license plate readers can take photographs of license plates and alert police if the license plate is connected to a certain person or investigation.
Prosecutors say a chain of events that ended in murder began back in Sept. of 2012, when Jungerman shot a then homeless man who was on his property. Pickert helped the man, whose leg had to be amputated, win a $5.75 million judgement against Jungerman. Days before the 2017 homicide, prosecutors say Pickert filed liens on Jungerman’s home and business to ensure payment in the civil lawsuit.
Jungerman’s defense team told jurors Tuesday that the millionaire could have written a check for the civil lawsuit judgement “many, many times over” and had obtained an attorney to appeal.
Oct. 2017 homicide:
Pickert was killed on Oct. 25, 2017, at 8:07 a.m. outside of his family’s home. Pickert had just walked his two young sons to school with the family dog. His wife, Emily Riegel, described hearing a gunshot or gunshots while getting ready for work inside the home. She ran outside and found someone had fatally shot her husband of 16 years that day. “I was screaming for help,” Riegel said. “Screaming to stop the van.”
She told jurors she saw someone in a white van pull a dark mask over their face and drive away from the crime scene. A neighbor said he saw an older man with thinning white or gray hair near a white van before the shooting. At the time of the homicide, Jungerman was 79 years old.
Prosecutors told jurors they will prove it was Jungerman’s van seen at the crime scene. His defense team argued they will prove it was not. “The van they show is not my client’s,” attorney for the defendant Daniel Ross told jurors.
Digital audio recording played in court Tuesday:
While executing a search warrant at Jungerman’s home, police discovered a digital audio recorder in his bathroom. Prosecutors say Jungerman recorded a court hearing in a separate case, then recorded himself talking with his longtime farmhand about Pickert’s murder.
Jurors heard portions of the recording in the courtroom. “Hey, you know, people … People, uh, know that I murdered that son of a [expletive],” jurors heard Jungerman say on the recording. “The thing that sort of bothers me about me is, when I think about it, I grin. (Laughing) That mother[expletive] has caused me a lot of problems.”
Opening statements on Tuesday:
“You know now what this case is about,” Jackson County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Tim Dollar told jurors. “His motive, his van, his voice. His motive being the underlying lawsuit with a multimillion-dollar judgement against him.”
Jungerman’s defense argued the audio recording lacked context. “That audio recording is not fair and accurate,” Ross told jurors. “The state, I don’t think, has any evidence to dispute that. Twenty-eight minutes are missing. Almost 25% of that tape is missing.”
Prosecutors told jurors they will present a mountain of evidence during the trial. Defense attorneys described the evidence as circumstantial, mishandled and, in some cases, destroyed.
Additional testimony could take some time. Prosecutors say more than 10,000 pages of investigative reports were written during the investigation.
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