Evergreen Child-Murder Trial Set for September

Prosecutors believe the trial could take up to two weeks

By Justin Franz

The trial for the man accused of killing an Evergreen toddler is tentatively set to begin Sept. 21.

Lawyers for Brandon Walter Lee Newberry and the prosecutor met in Flathead County District Court on March 17 for a status hearing. The hearing happened exactly a month after 2-year-old Forrest Groshelle was found dead on Feb. 17 after allegedly being beaten by Newberry, who has been charged with deliberate homicide.

Newberry, 21, had been dating Groshelle’s mother, Takara Juntunen, also 21, for three months when the toddler died.

On March 17, Deputy County Attorney Andrew Clegg told Judge Heidi Ulbricht that the trial could take up to two weeks. He also said that prosecutors were waiting for the Montana State Crime Laboratory to process and examine evidence, including hair samples, a phone and drug paraphernalia that was taken from the home.

Another status conference has been set for May 6.

Newberry was charged after the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office received a call about an unresponsive child on Feb. 17. During the call, Newberry could be heard screaming in the background, “it’s my fault, it’s my fault,” according to court records.

When police arrived, they found bruising, scratching and abrasions on Groshelle’s body. An autopsy revealed that the child had been hit multiple times in the abdomen, causing perienteritis, a laceration of the small intestine.

In an interview with sheriff’s deputies, the mother revealed that Newberry had been watching Groshelle on a daily basis while she was at work. Juntunen also said that her son had been vomiting in the preceding days, suggesting that the assault may have occurred between Feb. 11 and 17, according to police. During an interview with police, Newberry admitted that he had been “roughhousing” with the child the previous day.

On Feb. 26, Newberry pleaded not guilty to charges of deliberate homicide in Flathead County District Court. If convicted, Newberry could face up to 100 years in prison.


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