Man Accused of Toddler’s Death to be Sentenced

Brandon Newberry will appear in court on Tuesday

By Justin Franz
Brandon Newberry appears in Flathead County District Court on Feb. 10, 2016. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

The Evergreen man accused of murdering his girlfriend’s 2-year-old son last year was set to be sentenced in Flathead County District Court this week.

Brandon Walter Lee Newberry, 22, was scheduled to appear in court on April 19 at 3 p.m., after the Beacon went to print.

Earlier this year, Newberry accepted a deal to plead guilty by way of Alford to an amended charge of mitigated deliberate homicide. The change of plea hearing in February came nearly a year after Newberry’s girlfriend’s son, Forrest Groshelle, died from a laceration of the small intestine as the result of injuries due to trauma.  According to court documents, Newberry had been watching Groshelle on a daily basis while the mother, Takara Juntunen, was at work. In the days before Groshelle’s death he began vomiting. The boy died on Feb. 17, 2015.

When police arrived at the home, they found bruising, scratching and abrasions on the boy’s body. An autopsy revealed that Groshelle had been hit multiple times in the abdomen, causing a laceration of the small intestine that slowly poisoned the boy. During an interview with law enforcement, Newberry told them that in the days before Groshelle’s death he had been “roughhousing” with the child. He was arrested and charged with deliberate homicide soon after.

As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend that Judge Heidi Ulbricht sentence Newberry to 40 years in the Montana State Prison with no parole restrictions. Newberry’s attorneys will argue for a lessor punishment at the sentencing hearing, scheduled for April 19. The felony charge of mitigated deliberate homicide carries a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison.