Nearly six years after Kansas City attorney Thomas Pickert was shot to death on his front lawn, a Jackson County jury on Sept. 22 found David Jungerman, against whom Pickert had won a $5.75 million civil verdict just weeks before his death, guilty of his murder.
“After all these years, we are very, very thankful that the jury has spoken and justice has finally been brought to this family,” Tim Dollar, a partner at Dollar, Burns, Becker & Hershewe who served as a special prosecutor on the case, told reporters after the verdict was entered on Thursday evening.
Jungerman, 84, was convicted of first-degree murder and armed criminal action and faces life in prison at his sentencing on Nov. 18. Jungerman’s attorney, Dan Ross, has indicated he will appeal the verdict.
Jungerman was a defendant in a case tried in August 2017. Pickert, of the firm now known as Fowler Pickert Eisenmenger Norfleet, represented Jeffery Harris, a homeless man whom Jungerman shot and injured in 2012 while Harris and another man were trespassing on Jungerman’s business property.
The jury awarded Harris $5.75 million. The verdict was upheld on appeal in 2018.
Pickert was fatally shot with a single .17 caliber bullet in front of his Brookside home on Oct. 25, 2017, the day after the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department served Jungerman with liens against his property in a garnishment action to collect the verdict.
At trial, prosecutors introduced evidence that Jungerman owned a white Chevrolet van matching the description of a vehicle seen in Pickert’s neighborhood on the morning of the murder. A search of the van yielded an unspent round of the same caliber that had been used to kill Pickert, which prosecutors described as “relatively rare.”
Prosecutors also introduced audio that Jungerman accidentally recorded of himself talking about the case in a way that seemed to implicate him in the murder, as well as a printout found at Jungerman’s business from the Jackson County property tax database that showed the victim’s home address.
Jungerman’s trial was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. He has been held without bond in the Jackson County jail since March 2018.
The case is State v. Jungerman, 1816-CR01619-01.