She's the only one who can tell us what went on in that truck during those hours. —Dean Zabriskie
PROVO — A 17-year-old girl charged with murder in the death of Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Cory Wride pleaded not guilty to all charges Monday.
After Meagan Grunwald quietly acknowledged her "not guilty" pleas to all 12 counts she is facing, attorneys on both sides of the case asked to return in three weeks and said they expect to set a trial date at that time. When the case against the teenage girl goes to trial, she will take the stand and tell her side of the story.
"She's the only one who can tell us what went on in that truck during those hours," said defense attorney Dean Zabriskie, who maintains there were times when a gun was pointed at Grunwald during the events of Jan. 30.
"She was intimidated, coerced, she was scared to death," he said.
The 17-year-old girl has been charged as an adult in connection with the Jan. 30 crime spree that led to Wride's death even though Grunwald's boyfriend, Jose Angel Garcia-Juaregui, was believed to have fired the weapon. Police say Grunwald acted as the getaway driver that day.
Another Utah County sheriff's deputy, Greg Sherwood, was severely injured in the incident. Garcia-Juaregui was injured the same day in a shootout with deputies in Juab County. He died the next day from his injuries.
Deputy Utah County attorney Tim Taylor said he has not spoken with Grunwald's defense attorneys about the possibility of a plea deal. He said he expects the trial will be set to last at least three weeks.
Prosecutors have been talking with the families of the deputies involved and keeping them apprised of the case, he said. Any plea deal would be discussed with them first as they weigh the "strengths and weaknesses of the case."
"We have the shooter, who is dead. She is the accomplice so we have to look at the strength of our evidence," Taylor said. Also we look at the intent, the motive, those sort of things. We obviously know she was there, she participated."
As for the defense's explanation that Grunwald was being threatened, Taylor said he has yet to hear that from anyone but defense counsel. Prosecutors have talked to an additional witness from that day and are also seeking to learn more about Grunwald's life before the criminal events.
After a hearing on the evidence against Grunwald last month, she was ordered to stand trial on 12 charges, including aggravated murder, felony discharge of a firearm with serious bodily injury, two counts of attempted aggravated murder, and aggravated robbery, all first-degree felonies.
She is also charged with criminal mischief, a second-degree felony, two counts of felony discharge of a firearm, possession or use of a controlled substance, and failure to respond to an officer's signal to stop, all third-degree felonies; criminal mischief, a class A misdemeanor; and violation of operator duties for accident involving property damage, a class B misdemeanor.
Zabriskie said he visits his client often in jail and while she is a "minor in an adult world," the teenager is doing well under the circumstances.
"It's a terrible case," he said. "We mourn, as the whole community does, for this dead police officer and this other man who was horribly injured, but we just don't see that our client is responsible for that and we think the evidence will prove that."
Grunwald is slated to have a scheduling conference on June 2.