Prosecutor files motion to uphold life in prison sentence for LeRoy man convicted of murder as a teen

Karl Strunk
Karl Strunk

OSCEOLA COUNTY — As a juvenile, Karl Strunk was sentenced 28 years ago to serve life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder of his father, but that sentence will be re-examined at a future court hearing.

On Dec. 17, 1987, Strunk, 17 years old at the time, was convicted of first-degree murder and felony firearms. On Jan. 25, 1988, he was sentenced in Osceola County’s Circuit Court to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

While his initial sentence seemingly guaranteed Strunk would never be given the chance of a life outside of prison, a U.S. Supreme Court decision changed that, paving the way for it to at least be a possibility.

In 2012, in Miller v. Alabama, justices concluded juveniles should no longer face the possibility of mandatory life terms. In 2016, justices held in the case of Montgomery v. Louisiana that the Miller decision should be applied retroactively to those already in prison.

States and the federal government are now required to consider the unique circumstances of each juvenile defendant in determining an individualized sentence. The court wrote that mandatory life sentences should be reserved for those “rare children whose crimes reflect irreparable corruption,” who exhibit “such irretrievable depravity that rehabilitation is impossible and life without parole is justified.”

Now, prosecutors throughout the state are having to re-examine cases, determining if they want to ask a judge for sentences of life without the possibility of parole or simply allow the defendants to receive new, fixed sentences.

In July, Osceola County Prosecutor Tyler Thompson filed a motion stating his intention to seek life without parole for Strunk. If he had not filed the motion, a judge would have looked at sentencing guidelines and handed down a sentence to a term of years, Thompson said.

But based on the details of Strunk’s crime, Thompson believes the now 46-year-old should spend the remainder of his life in prison.

“My opinion is this is the rare exception, so that’s why I filed,” he explained.

On Feb. 9, 1987, the body of 43-year-old Rudi Strunk was found stuffed into a 55-gallon steel drum, which had been welded shut. Strunk, a machinest from LeRoy, had been shot to death. His son, Karl Strunk, 16 years old at the time, was arrested and charged with the crime.

According to old Pioneer articles, during his trial, Strunk testified his father refused to co-sign for a loan to buy a new truck. He also said his father ordered Strunk and his girlfriend to move out of his house by the next day. He felt “total rejection,” he testified. He then picked up the gun and shot his father twice.

To date, a hearing has not yet been set for Strunk, who will be represented by an appellate attorney provided by the state. Prosecutors and Strunk’s attorney will both present evidence, witness testimony and other factors arguing why Strunk should or should not receive life in prison without parole.