17-year-old pleads not guilty in fatal officer shooting

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Al Hartmann | POOL 17-year-old Meagan Grunwald, who has been charged as an adult in the shootings of two Utah deputies, makes her first appearance in Judge Darold McDade's in Provo, Utah, on Monday, February 24, 2014.
Grunwald, 17, who has been charged as an adult in the shootings of two Utah deputies, makes her first appearance in Judge Darold McDade’s in Provo, Utah, on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. Pool photo by Al Hartmann

A 17-year-old girl pleaded not guilty to 12 charges in 4th District Court Monday, May 12, in connection with the shooting death of Utah County Sheriff Sgt. Cory Wride.

Meagan Dakota Grunwald, whose last address is listed in Draper, pleaded not guilty to all 12 criminal counts before Judge Darold McDade Monday morning. According to court documents, Grunwald drove a pickup truck in the two-county chase as her 27-year-old boyfriend fired at the officers pursuing them, seriously injuring one and killing another on Jan. 30.

Grunwald will be tried as an adult for aggravated murder and 12 other criminal counts, including two counts of attempted aggravated murder, aggravated robbery and two counts of felony discharge of a firearm. Court documents showed urine tested positive for methamphetamine in her system.

After Grunwald’s appearance in court Monday morning, Rhome Zabriskie, Grunwald’s defense attorney, said the defense feels good about its circumstances and expects a trial date in August. A pretrail conference has been set for June 2. When asked how Grunwald is handling the situation, Zabriskie said, “She has her crying moments, I suspect. She’s gone from being a senior in high school to being in jail. She says she’s treated very well both by inmates and officers.”

Zabriskie told the media at the court building that Grunwald still maintains that her boyfriend forced her to act in the shooting. “No one has heard her side of the story. She is the only one that knows what happened in the cab of that truck.”

Grunwald’s 27-year-old boyfriend was shot and wounded by police officers and taken into custody on I-15 in Juab County; he later died in a local hospital on Jan. 31.

Grunwald and her boyfriend, José Angel Garcia-Jauregui, had been living together for several months before the shooting. Witnesses told police that Grunwald is pregnant with Garcia-Jauregui’s child and they planned to wed when she turned 18.

Grunwald was in the driver’s seat on the side of the road in a pickup truck registered to her family with her lights flashing when Wride pulled over. He took Grunwald’s driver’s license, and Garcia-Jauregui gave Wride a fake name. According to court records, Grunwald left her foot on the brake and put her car in drive. Garcia-Jauregui shot seven rounds from the sliding back window, killing Wride.

Police believe Grunwald was still driving when the suspects encountered deputy Greg Sherwood in Santaquin. Prosecutors claim Grunwald purposefully used the brakes to close the distance between the truck and pursuing patrolman, allowing Garcia-Jauregui to continue shooting at the vehicle.

After the suspects ran the truck over road spikes, hijacking a truck and hitting more spikes, Garcia-Jauregui fled on foot toward another vehicle. The vehicle sped away, leaving Garcia-Jaruegui and Grunwald behind. Garcia-Jauregui pointed his gun at the pursuing County Sheriff’s deputies, and they opened fire, hitting him once in the head.

Zabriskie said Garcia-Jauregui held a gun to Grunwald’s head during the incident and she was intimidated and scared by the situation.

Grunwald is held on a $1 million cash bail. Though she is being tried as an adult, she is ineligible for the death penalty, being under 18. If convicted she faces up to 25 years to life in prison.

 

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