Grunwald's family was 'protecting' shooter, uncle says at trial

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PROVO — Jerry Grunwald said he used to have a great relationship with his daughter, Meagan.

That was until Jose Angel Garcia-Juaregui came into her life.

Jerry Grunwald was subpoenaed by prosecutors to take the witness stand Monday at the murder trial of his 18-year-old daughter. Meagan Grunwald was 17 when she was with 27-year-old Garcia, on Jan. 30, 2014. Prosecutors say the two led police on a crime spree through multiple counties that started with the shooting death of Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Cory Wride in Eagle Mountain and the shooting of deputy Greg Sherwood in Santaquin. That was followed by a carjacking in Nephi, and more shooting at officers during a chase on I-15 before Garcia was killed in a final shootout with deputies south of Nephi.

"Love my daughter. Still love her today. She won't talk to me, but I still love her," Grunwald testified.

He made it clear Monday that he did not want to testify against his daughter.

"I had no choice," he said of being subpoenaed.

Meagan Grunwald listened attentively as her father testified but showed no emotion. When her father rolled past her in his wheelchair on his way out of the courtroom, she did not look at him.

Although she is not accused of firing any of the shots, the Utah County Attorney's Office contends she was a willing participant as the driver while the couple tried to get away from police, and continued to follow her boyfriend even when she had the chance to run from him. Her attorneys say she was threatened and forced to go along with her boyfriend out of fear that she would be harmed.

On Monday, prosecutors attempted to establish to jurors that there was a close relationship between Grunwald and Garcia, showing that she was not an unwilling participant.

When Jerry Grunwald first met Garcia, his daughter asked if he could spend the night. He told her just one night and that they had to be in separate rooms. Garcia, however, ended up moving in. The father said he was unaware that Garcia was 27.

'Joe, Joe, don't say my name, I'm fine. I messed up again. I did what I did before.'

–Jose Garcia-Gomez, speaking through an interpreter, said his nephew told him

"He was told to stay in the front room at all times, not in Meagan's room," he said.

However, the father apparently had no control over removing Garcia from his house. He said his now ex-wife, Tori, was apparently OK with it, saying it was another source of income in the family. Grunwald said he initially received $200 when Garcia moved in, but he didn't know whether he paid any rent or pitched in for groceries after that.

On Jan. 11, 2014 — 19 days before Wride was killed — tensions came to a head when Jerry Grunwald said he was arguing with his wife and daughter, insisting that Garcia had to leave because he suspected his daughter was having a sexual relationship with him. During the heated discussion, the father slapped his daughter, she punched him back, and then Garcia pulled a gun on Jerry Grunwald.

"I oughta kill you," Grunwald said Garcia told him.

Meagan Grunwald stepped between the two and Garcia ran out of the house. When Draper police responded, officer Eric Braegger was wearing a body camera. Part of that video was shown to jurors Monday.

Meagan Grunwald can be seen crying in the recorded video, saying that because both of her parents are disabled, Garcia was the only one who helped her with her studies.

"Angel is the only one to help me through everything," she said. "I know he's older than me, we're just friends. We don't do anything. I just want to move out but I can't 'til I'm 18."

The teenager blamed her father for the situation, calling him psychotic, and denied that Garcia had brandished a weapon.

"He didn't have a gun. I didn't see him pull anything," Meagan Grunwald said.

She then told the officer that Garcia was trying to turn his life around, and said he went to prison for "some self-defense thing."

Jerry Grunwald was arrested and later charged with disorderly conduct, assault and interfering with an arresting officer for resisting arrest. He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct and the remaining two charges were dismissed. A restraining order was placed on him against his daughter and wife.

Several times while Braegger was interviewing Jerry Grunwald on the night he was arrested, he said Grunwald talked about "if he took care of it, it would be taken care of. If police took care of it, nothing," apparently hinting that he wanted to take care of Garcia himself.

Jeffrey Adams, with the Utah County Major Crimes Task Force, testified that he helped serve a search warrant on Grunwald's bedroom at her parents' home in Draper following the shootout.

In the bedroom, investigators found ID cards belonging to Garcia as well as male clothing in the closet. They also seized a birthday card and notebooks with writing such as "I love you so much." The card, allegedly written by Grunwald to Garcia, used words such as "best friend," "soul mate," and described how she wanted to "make (him) feel like a king."

A lockbox was also discovered by the teen's bed. Investigators pried it open with a screwdriver and described finding .40-caliber bullets, methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. But under cross-examination, Adams conceded that no fingerprints were taken from any piece of evidence seized from the house. Defense attorney Dean Zabriskie raised the point that there was no evidence linking the drugs or bullets to his client.

After Wride was shot and killed, Garcia called his uncle in Texas, Jose Garcia-Gomez.

"Joe, Joe, don't say my name, I'm fine," Garcia-Gomez, speaking through an interpreter, said his nephew told him. "I messed up again. I did what I did before."

Garcia-Gomez, who lives in San Antonio, said his nephew talked to him in Spanish when he called. He told his uncle, "I made carnitas." When asked by attorneys in court what that meant, Garcia-Gomez replied, "I understood it to mean, 'I messed up,' like he did before.

"It was kind of like to give me a clue that he did something similar to what he did before, he was giving me an idea," he said through an interpreter.

In 2008, Garcia-Juaregui pleaded no contest to attempted murder an aggravated assault and was later charged with assault by a prisoner while in custody.

Garcia-Gomez said his nephew sounded "very agitated" and "nervous."

"It was like anguish, like pressure. Very nervous," he said. "He mentioned that he was OK and that his girlfriend's family was protecting him."

Garcia-Juaregui told his uncle he was going to California. His uncle testified Monday that his nephew did not say how his girlfriend's people were protecting him.

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