David Jungerman, the Jackson County millionaire who was found guilty in the 2017 shooting death of a Brookside attorney, died Monday morning, according to his defense attorney.
Jungerman, 85, was convicted last year of first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the Oct. 25, 2017, shooting death of Tom Pickert, who had just returned home after walking his sons to school.
Dan Ross, who represented Jungerman in the murder trial in Jackson County Circuit Court, said his client had been hospitalized for some time after becoming ill.
“David Jungerman always insisted on his innocence,” Ross told The Star. “Unfortunately, the appeal of his guilty verdict will never be heard. The defense was confident of prevailing on his appeal, because of his death by operation of law, we believe the case will be dismissed.”
In March, a Jackson County judge ruled that Jungerman was not competent to be sentenced and ordered that he be committed to the Missouri Department of Mental Health.
Jungerman had lost lawsuit over shooting of homeless man
During the criminal trial that lasted nearly two weeks, prosecutors said Jungerman shot Pickert because of a $5.75 million judgment Pickert won against Jungerman in a civil lawsuit.
Pickert was representing a homeless man Jungerman shot in 2012 because he thought the man was stealing copper from Jungerman’s baby furniture business in Kansas City.
A key element to the prosecutor’s closing argument was an audio recording of Jungerman allegedly admitting that he killed Pickert. Jungerman had joked with Leo Wynne, a man who worked for him about the shooting.
In the recording, Jungerman told Wynne: “When I think about it, I grin. That (expletive) has caused me a lot of problems Leo.”
Prosecutors showed jurors a photo from the crime scene that showed Pickert sprawled on the sidewalk in front of his home, dead from a gunshot wound to the head.
Defense accused police of falsifying evidence
During his closing argument, Ross said that prosecutors and police settled on Jungerman as a suspect based on an alleged motive and failed to seriously look at other suspects. Ross also said Kansas City police detectives falsified evidence, including surveillance video that did not fit the timeline of the theory presented to investigators.
Investigators captured on video a van that belonged to Jungerman traveling from Raytown to Pickert’s neighborhood on the day of the killing.
License plate readers would have shown that Jungerman was elsewhere at the time of the killing, Ross said. It also would have proved that Jungerman’s van was never detected in the victim’s neighborhood prior to the shooting, he said
Jungerman emerged as a suspect within hours of the shooting because of his connection to Pickert. Yet, the killing went unsolved for months.
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