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Teen charged with deputy's death is also a victim, attorney says

(Al Hartmann, The Salt Lake Tribune, Pool, File)



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PROVO — A defense attorney for a teenage girl charged with aggravated murder in the death of a sheriff's deputy said Monday that "she's as much of a victim in this case as anyone else."

But despite the attorney's protestations, a judge ruled that Meagan Grunwald, 17, will continue to be held behind bars on $1 million cash-only bail.

Grunwald is charged as an adult with 12 felonies, including aggravated murder and two counts of attempted aggravated murder, first-degree felonies, in the Jan. 30 crime spree that killed Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Cory Wride and injured deputy Greg Sherwood. Although her boyfriend, Jose Angel Garcia-Juaregui, pulled the trigger, prosecutors have said Grunwald was "absolutely as culpable" and presented even more evidence against her on Monday.

But defense attorney Dean Zabriskie said she was another victim of Garcia-Juaregui and asked 4th District Judge Darold McDade Monday to reduce her bail to $100,000.

"She was 16 years old when she met (Garcia-Juaregui). She's never been in trouble before. She was totally intimidated by him," Zabriskie said.

He assured the judge that his client has strong Utah family ties and that she would live at her mother's Draper home if bail was reduced and she could meet it.

But prosecutor Sam Pead said the judge shouldn't reduce bail "by even 1 cent" and outlined the events of Jan. 30 and Grunwald's alleged role in them.

Grunwald shifted the couple's vehicle into drive and kept her foot on the brakes soon after they were approached by Wride, so that she could hit the gas after Garcia-Juaregui fired the fatal shots, Pead said. He argued that she also closed the gap between their vehicle and Sherwood's when he ordered them to pull over in order to allow Garcia-Juaregui to get closer to the deputy's vehicle.


She's as much a victim in this case as anyone else. She was 16 years old when she met (Garcia-Juaregui). She's never been in trouble before. She was totally intimidated by him.

–Defense attorney Dean Zabriskie


When Grunwald and Garcia-Juaregui's vehicle became "unusable," Pead said Grunwald personally stopped a passing driver, using "the same kind of innocence and youth that appears to be her mode of sympathy today." He said Grunwald jumped into the passenger seat of the vehicle before Garcia-Juaregui threatened the driver with the gun.

"Prior to this, the defendant and her boyfriend … would talk about going to Mexico." Pead said. "They had been together six months, they lived together and these plans to be together ultimately and go to Mexico were sped up when the defendant was pulled over. … At that point, plans had to change because (he) was a parolee in violation of his parole and was likely to go back to prison, so they had to speed up the process. They had to get away."

The prosecutor said the couple called Garcia-Juaregui's uncle after Wride was shot and told him they had done something bad. They asked him about getting to California.

Before Jan. 30, Grunwald had also sent "electronic communications" about "using meth" and "shooting guns," Pead said.

Zabriskie objected to the narrative.

"As it stands right now, she is presumed to be innocent. These are allegations only," he said. "All this wild speculation about what went on in that truck is just that, speculation."

The judge ultimately denied the request and left bail at $1 million, cash-only.

Garcia-Juaregui was shot by four Juab County sheriff's deputies that day and he later died of his injuries. The actions taken by those four in stopping and shooting the gunman were described as courageous and heroic. Juab County Attorney Jared Eldridge determined that Sgt. Craig Ryan and deputies Rod Thompson, Kellen Worwood and Al Taylor were legally justified when they fired seven shots to end the dangerous situation and protect others and they were cleared for duty on Feb. 14.

Wride's brother-in-law, Johnny Revill, said he attended Monday's hearing in support of Wride and Sherwood. In his opinion, the judge's decision was the right one.

"He said that it's his job to protect the innocent public and make sure that she wasn't going to flee, that she wasn't a risk to flee and so we're satisfied with that," Revill said. "I think she's a possible risk to the innocent community, like the judge said, and I think she's where she needs to be."

Grunwald is being held in the Salt Lake County Jail. A hearing on the evidence against her is set for April 16 and 17.

Zabriskie said he will be ready for the hearing when the time comes.

"We see her as a victim. No one knows what was going on in that cab. She's almost deaf in one ear from that gun going off," he said. "Meantime, we've got a teenager in jail. I'm not making light of the fact that a good police officer, a very good police officer, was killed in a line of duty.

"I don't think two wrongs make a right and this (keeping her jailed on $1 million bail) would be the second one as far as I'm concerned."

Video Contributor: Sam Penrod

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