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Jury finds David Jungerman guilty of murder in 2017 slaying of Kansas City attorney

Photos Jungerman trial day 1
Rich Sugg/rsugg@kcstar.com
The long delayed criminal trial of 84-year-old David G. Jungerman resulted in his conviction on Thursday afternoon for the slaying of attorney Tom Pickert.

A jury deliberated for fewer than two hours on Thursday before returning a guilty verdict of first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the killing of Tom Pickert in Kansas City's Brookside neighborhood in 2017.

A Jackson County jury on Thursday found David Jungerman guilty of first-degree murder and armed criminal action for the killing of Kansas City attorney Tom Pickert in 2017.

The jury deliberated less than two hours before returning its verdict against Jungerman, an 84-year-old, multimillionaire businessman, who was suspected moments after Thomas Pickert, 39, was found fatally wounded at his own front door.

Pickert had just returned to his Brookside home shortly after walking his two young children to school. Witnesses reported seeing a white van driven by an older man with white hair. Pickert's widow, Dr. Emily Riegel, quickly told police she suspected Jungerman because Pickert had recently won a $5.75 million judgment against him.

Tim Dollar, a private attorney working for the Jackson County Prosecutor's office, said he was pleased with the verdict and hoped it brought some closure to the Pickert family. Dollar asked the jury during opening arguments to remember just three things: “His motive. His van. His voice.”

"We decided early on that that was going to be our theme for this case and so we attempted to weave in all of the evidence consistent with that theme throughout the case," Dollar said after the verdict.

Dollar said he was surprised that it took less than two hours for the jury to reach its decision given the large amount of evidence in the case.

Jungerman's attorney, Dan Ross, said his client was disappointed but he will ask the judge for a new trial. Ross had argued that police bungled evidence and claimed there were 25 missing minutes from an audiotape in which Jungerman was heard to be admitting he murdered Pickert.

"He definitely accepted the role of the jurors. He and I planned our next meeting to see where the case goes from here," Ross said.

Sentencing is set for November 18.

The jury was shown surveillance tapes showing Jungerman driving from Raytown to Pickert’s home about 7 a.m. the day Pickert was killed. Police eventually found the van hidden in a wooded area of Jungerman’s property, off a dirt road.

A search of Jungerman’s business and home found other evidence, including Jackson County property records showing Pickert’s address, a manila file folder labeled “Pickert Murder,” a black plastic mask in Jungerman's closet, a .17-caliber round found in Jungerman’s other vehicle and an Olympus digital audio recorder found in his bathroom.

On the recorder, police found a conversation Jungerman had with his hired hand, a man named Leo Wynne, that Jungerman was unaware was being taped.

“People know that I murdered that son of a bitch,” Jungerman said to Wynne on the tape. “The police know, too, Leo.”

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.

In August 2020, a Jackson County judge approved a confidential settlement of a wrongful death lawsuit brought by Pickert's wife and parents against a trust established by Jungerman.

Jungerman was not a party to the settlement, nor was his business, Baby Tenda Corp., a Kansas City-based maker of cribs and toddler tables.

Jungerman, who by then had hired and fired numerous lawyers, sought to block the settlement at every turn. During the course of the case, Pickert’s family was forced to prosecute or defend numerous appeals, writs and motions, as well attempts to remove the receivers a judge had appointed to oversee Jungerman’s estate, which was worth more than $30 million.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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.
As a reporter covering breaking news and legal affairs, I want to demystify often-complex legal issues in order to expose the visible and invisible ways they affect people’s lives. I cover issues of justice and equity, and seek to ensure that significant and often under-covered developments get the attention they deserve so that KCUR listeners and readers are equipped with the knowledge they need to act as better informed citizens. Email me at dan@kcur.org.
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