Prosecutors mull moving trial for teen charged in deputy's death

Published: Monday, June 23 2014 1:05 p.m. MDT

Updated: Wednesday, June 25 2014 9:35 a.m. MDT

Meagan Grunwald, a teen charged in connection with fatal officer shooting in Utah County, listens to Defense attorney Rhome Zabriske during a recess in her preliminary hearing in Judge Darold McDade's courtroom in Provo, Thursday April 17, 2014.

Rick Egan

PROVO — Prosecutors said Monday that the case surrounding a 17-year-old girl charged with murder in the death of Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Cory Wride is a "unique situation" that has them asking for time to respond to a request to move the case to Salt Lake County.

At a hearing for Meagan Grunwald in Provo's 4th District Court Monday, prosecutors said they needed additional time to address the defense's motion for a change of venue. Judge Darold McDade set a hearing for July 21.

Prosecutor Sam Pead said prosecutors typically contest such requests, but they wanted more time to review all the circumstances in this case.

"Admittedly this situation is a little bit different, where the victims' standing in the community is so high and he's so well-regarded — both he (Wride) and deputy (Greg) Sherwood," Pead said. "So I think in that sense, it's a pretty unique situation, so that's why I think we have to be more intellectually honest in how we approach the case because there is some genuine concern here."

Specifically, he said, there is some concern about finding enough impartial jurors in Utah County who don't already have an opinion about the case.

Until the change of venue question is answered, he said, filing any motions relevant to the evidence and setting a trial date would be premature. Pead said no unnecessary delays have occurred at this point and everyone wants to get the case wrapped up sooner than later.

Grunwald's defense attorney, Dean Zabriskie, said he would like to see the case moved to 3rd District Court in West Jordan due to the larger jury pool available and the fact that Grunwald is already being housed in the Salt Lake County Jail.

"There's some obvious concerns that we have for Utah County," Zabriskie said. "This is a good county, good people, but again this involves the victim who was a Utah County resident, was a Utah County deputy sheriff. That particular office provides security for this court and the jury. There are a few rather esoteric concerns that we have there."

Prosecutors contend that Grunwald was the getaway driver in a Jan. 30 crime spree that led to Wride's death and left Sherwood severely injured. It is believed Grunwald's boyfriend, Jose Angel Garcia-Juaragui, 27, actually fired the weapon that day.

Garcia-Juaregui was injured the same day in a shootout with deputies in Juab County. He died the next day from his injuries.

Grunwald, of Draper, is charged as an adult with aggravated murder, two counts of 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; 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.

She was ordered to stand trial on all of the charges following a hearing on the evidence against her in April.

Zabriskie maintains that Grunwald was threatened and coerced into participating. He has said that if the case goes to trial, she will take the stand and tell what happened inside the vehicle that day.

Attorneys on both sides of the case have said plea agreements are always possible, but they need to review more evidence before they could potentially pursue that route. Pead said the attorneys have been in contact but have yet to come to a middle ground.

"The stumbling block is just the nature of the case," Zabriskie said. "Any resolutions have to be discussed with the victim's family and with our client's family. It's a rather tedious process."

Email: emorgan@deseretnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS