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Deal not yet 'viable' for girl charged in Utah deputies' shootings

Published June 2, 2014 5:01 pm

Courts • Meagan Grunwald, 17, is charged in shooting spree that left one officer dead and another wounded.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Provo • Though they were tight-lipped about specifics, prosecutors and defense attorneys said Monday that settlement negotiations are being discussed for Meagan Grunwald, charged in connection with a January shooting spree in which she and her boyfriend allegedly tore through two counties as he shot at police, killing one Utah County law enforcement officer and wounding another.

"There has been talk about what our expectations are and what theirs are," defense attorney Dean Zabriskie said outside of court Monday, but added that he doesn't believe the plea deal is a "viable alternative" at the moment.

During a brief pretrial conference for Grunwald, 17, on Monday, Zabriskie asked for more time for her defense team to look over the "mountain of evidence" in the case.

The teen will be back in court before 4th District Judge Darold McDade again on June 23.

Zabriskie said if a settlement hasn't been reached, he anticipates a trial in late fall.

Deputy Utah County Attorney Sam Pead said the possible negotiations are part of the "normal process" in any criminal case.

"I don't know if any decisions were made on anything," Pead said. "But we've had open dialog. We'll continue to talk about things."

The teenage Draper girl — charged as an adult — has pleaded not guilty to 10 felonies and two misdemeanors for the Jan. 30 events that also left her boyfriend, 27-year-old Jose Angel Garcia-Jauregui, dead.

Grunwald is charged with aggravated murder for the Jan. 30 death of Utah County sheriff's Sgt. Cory Wride on a road near Lehi, and attempted aggravated murder for the wounding of Utah County sheriff's Deputy Greg Sherwood in Santaquin.

She also faces two counts of discharge of a firearm, two counts of attempted aggravated murder and aggravated robbery — all first-degree felonies — as well as obstructing justice, failure to respond to an officer, possession or use of a controlled substance and lesser charges of felony discharge of a firearm and misdemeanor criminal mischief and violation of operator duties after an accident.

Grunwald could be sentenced to up to life in prison if convicted. She is being held behind bars on a $1 million cash-only bail.

She was ordered in April to stand trial after a judge found there was enough probable cause — in dash-cam footage, photographs and witness testimony — to move the case forward.

About 1 p.m. on Jan. 30, Wride stopped his patrol car on State Road 73 about 5 miles west of Lehi to check on a Toyota Tundra pickup that was pulled over on the shoulder of the road.

He took information from Grunwald, who was allegedly driving the truck, and then sat back down inside his patrol car to cross-reference it.

That's when the man in the passenger seat allegedly opened the back sliding window of the truck and opened fire.

Seven gunshots were fired in Wride's direction, testified Utah County investigator Sgt. Scott Finch, at the April preliminary hearing. The first two pierced the windshield and killed Wride.

The pickup tore away, officials said, beginning a high-speed manhunt that led officers on a two-county chase that would result in the wounding of another law enforcement official and leave several cars damaged and the shooter fatally wounded along the way.

Police believe the girl was behind the wheel when she and Garcia-Jauregui met Sherwood in Santaquin more than an hour after Wride was shot.

A Sherwood was following the truck in his patrol vehicle, prosecutors allege the teen girl braked suddenly — closing distance between her truck and Sherwood's vehicle — and Garcia-Jauregui fired from the back window of the truck once more. Sherwood was struck once in the head.

The two continued south on Interstate 15, with Garcia-Jauregui taking shots at random vehicles, including a semi-truck, according to preliminary hearing testimony.

After police spiked the Tundra's tires, the pair commandeered another vehicle at gunpoint, but that vehicle was disabled by tire spikes south of Nephi, where Juab County sheriff's deputies arrested them after shooting and wounding Garcia-Jauregui, according to court documents.

jmiller@sltrib.com