Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014

Teen charged as adult with deputy's death

Alleged getaway driver is pregnant with dead gunman's child, friends tell police

By Pat Reavy and McKenzie Romero, Deseret News

Published: Tue, Feb. 18 4:30 p.m. MST

 Sergeant Cory Wride, Utah County Sheriff's Office, killed in the line of duty, January 30, 2014.

Sergeant Cory Wride, Utah County Sheriff's Office, killed in the line of duty, January 30, 2014.

(Utah County Sheriff's Office, )

PROVO — A 17-year-old girl who allegedly drove her boyfriend as he shot and killed a sheriff's sergeant and later shot another deputy was charged Tuesday with the officer's death.

Meagan Dakota Grunwald, 17, of Draper, faces 12 felonies and two misdemeanors. She was charged as an adult with aggravated murder, a first-degree felony, for her alleged role in the death of Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Cory Wride.

She is also charged with attempted aggravated murder for the shooting of deputy Greg Sherwood, a second count of attempted aggravated murder for shots being fired at a Utah Highway Patrol trooper, and aggravated robbery for a carjacking in Nephi.

Some of the outstanding questions from the Jan. 30 crime spree through Utah and Juab counties included whether Grunwald was an active participant or was coerced by 27-year-old Jose Angel Garcia-Juaregui, whether the Riverton High School graduate would be charged as an adult, and what kind of relationship the two shared.

Prosecutors say Grunwald continued to follow and stay with Garcia-Juaregui even when "she had opportunities to get away or escape his control and seek the protection of officers." She also drove aggressively from officers, continued to evade police and did not render aid to Wride after he was shot, according to documents filed in 4th District Court.

Prosecutors filed charges against the teenager in adult court, based on the serious and violent nature of the crimes.

Relationship

Grunwald is pregnant with Garcia-Juaregui's child, according to friends, and had methamphetamine in her system during the incident, court documents state. The two had reportedly planned on getting married when she turns 18 in August and were going to move to Mexico, friends told investigators.

The two had lived together "for several months" at her mother's Draper home, according to an arrest warrant.

Witnesses also told police that Grunwald had been buying meth for Garcia-Juaregui. Prosecutors have not said whether they believe he was high on drugs during the shooting spree. When the suspects' pickup truck was searched by police, drug paraphernalia was found inside, the charges state.

During the climatic gun battle on I-15 where the rampage came to an end and Garcia-Juaregui was shot by Juab County sheriff's deputies, Grunwald said, "Come on, baby" while looking over at him lying on the ground, and appeared to be worried about his well-being, police wrote.

After he was shot, Garcia-Juaregui asked deputies: "You not going to let me kiss my girl with my last dying breath?"

Garcia-Juaregui died from his injuries the next day. The official cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma caused by a bullet that did not penetrate his skull but did cause swelling of the brain.

Grunwald was being held Tuesday in the Utah County Jail on $1 million bail. Her initial court hearing is scheduled for Monday.

The court documents filed Tuesday also reveal new details about the alleged crime spree.

Shootings

When Wride stopped to help the two suspects near Eagle Mountain about 1 p.m. on Jan. 30, he believed they were having car trouble. He went back and forth between his patrol car and the suspects' pickup truck three times trying to verify Garcia-Juaregui's identity.

Grunwald was driving the truck that was registered to her mother. Grunwald gave the sergeant her driver's license, but Garcia-Juaregui gave him a false name.

Investigators have said his interaction with the suspects lasted about 20 minutes before Garcia-Juaregui opened the rear window of the truck and began firing shots at Wride while he was sitting in his patrol car.

"Once the shooting begins, Ms. Grunwald accelerates away from the shooting scene, leaving Sgt. Wride fatally wounded," the warrant states.

Wride's body wasn't discovered until about 45 minutes later, at 2:06 p.m., when a deputy was sent to check on him.

Sherwood spotted the pickup truck just before 3 p.m. near Santaquin. During the ensuing chase, prosecutors say Grunwald "aggressively applied the brakes" to the pickup she was driving. With Sherwood's patrol car now within close distance, Garcia-Juaregui fired two shots from the back window. The deputy was shot once in the head and critically injured.

Coincidentally, Sherwood was released from the hospital Tuesday and came home about the same time the charges were filed. He had been hospitalized for 19 days.

"He was emotional about it. I was emotional. It's just nice to see how much support we have," Gina Sherwood, the deputy's wife, said Tuesday. "Not just from our family family, but our law enforcement family, our ward family, they've just all taken really good care of us."

After the fleeing truck's tires were spiked and it crashed in Nephi, Garcia-Juaregui carjacked a woman who was driving back from parent-teacher conferences. Grunwald, "on her own accord, follows Mr. Garcia-Juaregui after leaving the vehicle without appearing to be coerced by him," the charges state.

At one point, Grunwald actually ran ahead of her boyfriend and flagged down the vehicle that they eventually carjacked, according to charging documents.

Later, that vehicle also had its tires spiked on I-15 south of Nephi and crossed into oncoming traffic, apparently hitting a minivan on purpose. Grunwald again tried to follow Garcia-Juaregui.

"She did not attempt to go to the Juab deputies on scene or seek safety from Mr. Garcia-Juaregui," the charges state.

The actions of four Juab County deputies who shot at Garcia-Juaregui were legally justified, the Juab County attorney determined Friday, and they have been cleared to return to work.

Grunwald family

Multiple neighbors who know the Grunwald family but requested not to be identified gave similar accounts Tuesday of years of public family fights and other issues.

“I feel sorry for Meagan. She has not had a chance in life, really,” said one neighbor, who believes the girl was responsible for caring for her parents from an early age. “I feel bad this has happened with her, but I knew she was going with the wrong crowd. And she was not a follower, as they say. I believe she was a leader in it.”

Problems escalated when Garcia-Juaregui moved into the Draper home, and Jerry Grunwald told neighbors he didn’t like his daughter’s boyfriend. Neighbors could not confirm reports that Meagan Grunwald is pregnant, but one woman said Garcia-Juaregui gave the teenager a promise ring in November.

Another neighbor said that although police were frequently called to the home, little seemed to come from those visits.

“They’re basically a very, very troubled family that were sort of protected by the powers that be out here,” the woman said. “They never got the real help they needed.”

The most recent dispute at the home broke out in mid-January when Jerry Grunwald demanded Garcia-Juaregui move out, according to neighbors. Garcia-Juaregui had reportedly lived in the house about six months.

On Jan. 11, Jerry Grunwald slapped his daughter when she tried to stop him from getting to her boyfriend, and also slapped or pushed his wife, a Salt Lake County Jail report states. The women called 911, and when police attempted to place handcuffs on Grunwald, he lunged forward and tried to get away.

Jerry Grunwald was charged Jan. 13 with disorderly conduct, assault and interfering with an arresting officer. He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct on Feb. 6 and the remaining two charges were dismissed.

Multiple neighbors said Tori Grunwald petitioned for a restraining order against her husband, forcing him to move out following the fight. State court records indicate that she filed for divorce on Feb. 5. The filing includes a “motion for temporary order,” although records don’t specify whether it is a restraining order.

Court records indicate the parents have criminal histories, and mental health evaluations were ordered for him in 2008 and her in 2010 and 2011.

Employees confirmed that Meagan Grumwald worked at the Cinemark movie theaters in Draper. Jordan School District spokeswoman Sandy Riesgraf said the 17-year-old graduated early from Riverton High School.

Official charges

Meagan Grunwald is charged 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 two counts of obstructing justice, 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; plus criminal mischief, a class A misdemeanor; and violation of operator duties for accident involving property damage, a class B misdemeanor.

Prosecutors also filed alternative charges of murder, a first-degree felony; and two counts of attempted murder, a first-degree felony, in case the aggravated elements of those three charges are not met.

Utah State Courts spokeswoman Nancy Volmer said Meagan Grunwald has a "limited" history in 3rd District Juvenile Court and no criminal history in other courts.

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com; mromero@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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1. benny02
slc, ut,
Feb. 18, 2014

Megan's parents should be in jaii along with her. Why are they allowing their 17 year old girl date an 27 year old ex con? That wouldn't be tolerated with my daughter.

2. benny02
slc, ut,
Feb. 18, 2014

If convicted she should get the death penalty if available.

3. DN Subscriber
Cottonwood Heights, UT,
Feb. 18, 2014

The facts seem pretty obvious.

Time for the prosecutors, judge and jury to do their duty.
The accused deserves a fair trial, and if found guilty the maximum penalty allowed by law.

No sympathy for her parents at all, or for her unborn child who needs a better home.

4. cjb
Bountiful, UT,
Feb. 19, 2014

She is not the one who shot the deputy. She is not a murderer.

She should be charged with driving a get away car and failure to render aid.

5. cjb
Bountiful, UT,
Feb. 19, 2014

Unless it can be proves she helped to plot the shooting of a cop, she ought not be charged with murder. Accessory after the fact yes, murder no.