Jurors hear audio recording of murder suspect David Jungerman during first full day of trial testimony

Published: Sep. 13, 2022 at 7:26 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - The first full day of testimony ended Tuesday during the first-degree murder trial of 84-year-old David Jungerman.

Jungerman is accused of killing 39-year-old attorney Tom Pickert in Oct. of 2017 outside of Pickert’s Brookside home. Pickert’s relatives and friends have waited nearly five years to see his suspected killer face the charges filed against him. Jungerman is charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action.

On Tuesday, jurors saw crime scene photos. They heard Pickert’s wife’s 911 call for help. Prosecutors showed the jury video surveillance from multiple city traffic cameras and a city bus of the suspect’s van. Prosecutors contend the surveillance shows the route Jungerman took to travel from his home to Pickert’s house. The state also played an audio recording of David Jungerman’s own words.

Jungerman’s defense attorneys cross-examined the state’s witnesses, hoping to make jurors question the prosecution’s case.

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.

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:

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:

“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.

Stay with KCTV5 News for ongoing trial coverage.