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Crime News Breaking News

Man Accidentally Leaves His Recorder On And Admits To Murder

The victim was shot on his front porch in broad daylight, but the case went unsolved for months.

By Jon Silman

On Wednesday, a Kansas City man was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action for the shooting of a lawyer who sued him and won, The Kansas City Star reported. David Jungerman, 80, was taken into custody after a search warrant by police revealed a tape recorder with an apparent confession on it.

"People, uh, know that I murdered that son of a bitch," Jungerman is quoted as saying, possibly referring to attorney Tom Pickert.

Pickert was sitting on his front porch on October 25 after he walked his kids to school when someone came up and fatally shot him in the right temple, according to Northeast News. His wife found him sprawled on the ground. It was a day after Jungerman was served a property liens to help satisfy a $5.75 million civil judgement Pickert won against him in court, according to the newspaper.

Witnesses told police they saw an older, gray-haired man in a white van parked across the street from Pickert's house that day, and a similar one speeding away after the shooting, according to NBC News. Local media pointed out Jungerman owned a white van, matched the suspect's description and had a history of violent behavior. Police, however, denied Jungerman was a suspect for weeks, until April 11, when they felt they had collected enough evidence against him. 

The contention between Jungerman and Pickert began with a court case in 2012, according to NBC News. Pickert, 39, was representing a man named Jeffrey Harris. Jungerman, a maker of baby furniture and a farmer, said Harris trespassed on his business to steal copper. Jungerman shot Harris in the leg, and it had to be amputated below the knee. Harris said Jungerman didn't call police or warn him he was going shoot, so he sued for assault and battery. Harris won the case and was awarded $5.75 million, Missouri Lawyers Weekly reported. 

After the shooting, Kansas City police focused their investigation on Jungerman. They said he'd been transferring property and money to his daughter in the weeks leading up to the murder. His assets were valued at around $33 million, investigators said.

In March, authorities searched his home and car. They found a .17-caliber bullet from the front seat of his Toyota Sequoia, according to NBC News. The bullet matched the type that killed Pickert. They found the Olympus audio recorder in Jungerman's house, which had the apparent confession on it. 

The recording itself was from a court hearing Jungerman had attended in Vernon County. Jungerman hadn't turned off the recorder after he left court, and it just kept running, capturing his alleged confession.

Investigators also interviewed one of Jungerman's employees, who told them Jungerman claimed to have killed the lawyer becasue the lawyer stole his money. Coincidentally, authorities didn't have to go far to find Jungerman — he was already in jail on charges of shooting at a different man he suspected of stealing from him on March 8.

He is being held without bond, according to Northeast News. On April 12, Jungerman appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to the charges, Herald-Mail Media reported.

[Photo: Kansas City Police Department]

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