A Jackson County judge ruled Friday that David G. Jungerman, who was found guilty in the shooting death of a Brookside attorney, is not competent to be sentenced and will be committed to the Missouri Department of Mental Health.
Jungerman, an 85-year-old millionaire, was convicted last year of first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the Oct. 25, 2017, shooting death of Tom Pickert, who had just returned home after walking his sons to school.
Circuit Court Judge John M. Torrence said that Jungerman was not competent to proceed with sentencing, where he would have been asked to answer a series of questions.
Jungerman will be sent to a state-run mental health facility, with “hope that he regains his competency at some time. I don’t think there’s another choice,” Torrence said.
Prior to Friday’s hearing, Torrence ordered a mental evaluation of Jungerman. Four separate examiners from the state’s department of mental health determined that Jungerman suffers from an unspecified neurocognitive disorder, Torrence said.
Jungerman’s competency will be reviewed after six months. At that time, it would be determined whether sentencing could then proceed.
The sentencing was initially scheduled for Nov. 18 but the hearing was delayed while his defense attorneys raised concerns about his competency. Under Missouri law, a first-degree murder conviction carries a minimum penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Following the hearing, defense attorney Dan Ross said “the judge followed the law. The facts are what they are and the law is what it is.”
Ross had previously said that Jungerman lacked the capacity to understand the court proceedings against him or to assist in his own defense. But he was ruled competent during the trial.
Chief Deputy Jackson County Prosecutor Dion Sankar said the sentencing should have proceeded because there was no need for Jungerman to assist his attorneys.
During the criminal trial that lasted nearly two weeks, prosecutors said Jungerman shot Pickert because of a $5.75 million judgment Pickert won against Jungerman in a civil lawsuit.
Pickert was representing a homeless man Jungerman shot in 2012 because he thought the man was stealing copper from Jungerman’s baby furniture business in Kansas City.
Prosecutors played audio recordings of Jungerman admitting that he gunned down Pickert. Jungerman joked with Leo Wynne, one of his employees, about the shooting.
In the recording, Jungerman told Wynne: “When I think about it, I grin. That (expletive) has caused me a lot of problems Leo.”
But Ross said prosecutors and police had settled on Jungerman as a suspect based on an alleged motive and failed to seriously look for other suspects. Ross said Kansas City homicide detectives falsified evidence, including surveillance video that did not fit their motive, narrative or timeline.
Jungerman emerged as a suspect in the killing within hours of the shooting because of his association with Pickert. However, the homicide went unsolved for months.
KCPD said at one point that Jungerman, who was the focus of intense media coverage, was not a suspect.
A week before the shooting, Jackson County court officials had started the process of seizing Jungerman’s real estate to pay the $5.75 million judgment. The court filed paperwork that would prevent Jungerman from selling or transferring the property.
Prosecutors said Jungerman shot Pickert with a .17-caliber firearm, a weapon commonly used by farmers and ranchers to kill pests.
This story was originally revealed March 10, 2023, 5:52 PM.