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81-Year-Old Accused Of Killing Kansas City Lawyer Wants To Be Released From Jail

Jackson County Detention Center
David Jungerman, 81, is charged with murdering a Kansas City lawyer who had won a $5.65 million judgement against him.

David Jungerman, an 81-year-old Raytown man accused of killing a Kansas City lawyer in broad daylight, says he should be released from jail while he waits for his trial because he “has never killed anyone” and is not a flight risk.

In a rambling, hand-printed motion, Jungerman also appears to incriminate himself, admitting that it was his voice on a digital recorder police recovered, saying “it’s a shame I don’t have a .17 from a distance we could take ‘em out.”

Lawyer Thomas Pickert, 39, was shot in October 2017 in front of his Brookside home, just moments after walking his children to school. He was killed with a .17-caliber bullet.

Jungerman denies owning a .17 caliber gun, but writes in the motion that he was “talking about tires, not people, trespassing and hunting illegally on our property.” He also says police planted the .17-caliber bullet in one of his cars.

Jungerman has been held at the Jackson County Detention Facility since March 2018, when he was charged with armed criminal action for chasing and shooting at a man and a pregnant woman he thought had stolen from his business. When he was charged with Pickert’s murder in April 2018, he was ordered held without bail. A bond hearing is scheduled for Thursday and he’s set to stand trial on Sept. 3.

Jackson County Prosecutors are fighting his release, writing in a motion that Jungerman is a violent, rich man who is “a severe threat to the community” and a flight risk. Jungerman is worth more than $33 million and has been directing his family and others via a jail phone to move his assets “beyond the reach” of an attorney who was appointed in an ongoing civil case, according to a motion filed by Dan Nelson, deputy prosecuting attorney.

Jungerman shows a “high level of demonstrated personal violence,” even at his age, Nelson wrote. While Jungerman has some health issues, he was 79-years-old on the date Pickert was killed.

“His health factors did not prevent him from personally driving to a residence, murdering a husband and father of two young children with a .17-caliber rifle, and fleeing the scene,” Nelson wrote.

Jungerman wrote that he has several health problems, including “serious brain damage, no sense of smell, poor hearing, a pacemaker runs my heart, two total knee replacements, cancer behind right ear, and have seizures.”

“I am not a 7-year-old cry baby who wants people who care for him to feel bad even though I am confined in one of the worst jails in the USA,” Jungerman wrote.

Prosecutors suggest Jungerman was angry that Pickert had won a $5.65 million judgement against him in an assault on a homeless man. On the same recording as talk of the .17-caliber gun, Jungerman tells an employee that “people uh know that I murdered that son of a bitch,” adding that when he thought about it, “I grin.”

Jungerman also denies in the motion that he searched on his computer for "Can a 22LR caliber bullet penetrate a human skull," "is a 22 deadly," and "17 Caliber Rifle," which police say they found through a forensic analysis.

Peggy Lowe is a reporter at KCUR. She can be found on Twitter at @peggyllowe.

I’m a veteran investigative reporter who came up through newspapers and moved to public media. I want to give people a better understanding of the criminal justice system by focusing on its deeper issues, like institutional racism, the poverty-to-prison pipeline and police accountability. Today this beat is much different from how reporters worked it in the past. I’m telling stories about people who are building significant civil rights movements and redefining public safety. Email me at lowep@kcur.org.
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