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Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014

Change of venue request in deputy killing slated for next month

By Emiley Morgan, Deseret News

Published: Mon, July 21 12:49 p.m. MDT

 Meagan Grunwald, a teen charged in connection with a fatal officer shooting in Utah County, during a break in her preliminary hearing in Judge Darold McDade's courtroom in Provo Thursday, April 17, 2014.

Meagan Grunwald, a teen charged in connection with a fatal officer shooting in Utah County, during a break in her preliminary hearing in Judge Darold McDade's courtroom in Provo Thursday, April 17, 2014.

(Rick Egan)

PROVO — Attorneys for a 17-year-old girl charged with murder in the death of Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Cory Wride will argue to have her case moved to Salt Lake County next month.

Meagan Grunwald's attorney, Dean Zabriskie, asked 4th District Judge Darold McDade to continue Monday's hearing to allow for arguments on the motion "because of the nature of the case and importance of the motion." Prosecutors have filed a motion arguing that the request for a change of venue is "unsupported by facts or law" and noted the extensive coverage of the case statewide.

The judge set the arguments for Aug. 4.

"We want this judge to have all the facts and all our concerns and hear them in one setting," Zabriskie said, adding that he believes the change of motion issue will be resolved at that hearing.

Grunwald has been charged as an adult and is facing 12 charges in connection with a Jan. 30 crime spree that left Wride dead and severely injured Utah County sheriff's deputy Greg Sherwood. Investigators believe Grunwald's boyfriend, Jose Angel Garcia-Juaregui, 27, fired the weapon while Grunwald acted as the getaway driver.

Garcia-Juaregui was killed in a shootout with police.

Grunwald's attorney is hoping that the case will be moved to 3rd District Court in West Jordan, because Grunwald is being housed in the Salt Lake County Jail and because of the intense interest the case has generated in Utah County.

"This young man and the other police officer, fine, young police officers, reside in this community," Zabriskie said. "The ongoing efforts to memorialize these young men — we see streets named after them and different dedicatory things to their memory — that concern us a little bit."

He noted that court security is also provided by the Utah County Sheriff's Office and that while he has great "faith and trust" in the office, he is concerned about the potential influence their presence could have on a jury.

In their motion filed July 8, prosecutors contend that Wride, Sherwood and a trooper who was fired upon are not public figures from their positions as law enforcement officers and there is no evidence that their status would have an influence on a jury. They also note that while there has been attention on Grunwald since the Jan. 30 incident, she does not amount to a public figure, either.

"Secondly, the victims have not thrust themselves into the public eye," the motion states. "These were honorable yet private citizens doing what was needed at the time."

They add that Utah County is the second largest county in the state, with a population of 551,000. While they acknowledge that awards and memorials are given for the officers periodically, they are confident an impartial jury can be found without moving it. Neither the charges or the publicity surrounding the case warrant a change in venue, the motion states, noting that there are other counties in the 4th District Court and that media coverage has been not only statewide, but also fair in including the defense's theories about innocence.

Zabriskie has long contended that Grunwald was frightened and coerced into taking part into the criminal activity.

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 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.

Email: emorgan@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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1. Strider303
Salt Lake City, UT,
July 21, 2014

I think the defense is wasting time and money with this request. If publicity harming the case were the issue, why not ask to move the trial to Washington County or Cache County?

Utah and Salt Lake Counties are adjacent metropolitan areas, and served by the same TV and Radio stations and both the DesNews and SLTrib. OK so the Daily Herald doesn't go around the Point of the Mountain, but there is significant interchange of populations in the commute routine to consider the two almost in the same breath.

The political makeup of the two counties is different but that wasn't one of the reasons, and if that were the reason why not say so?

Besides they will drag out the court proceedings so long that most of the public will have forgotten the emotions generated by the events. All that will matter are the facts, and that is what the trial is supposed to be about anyway.

2. K
Mchenry, IL,
July 22, 2014

She should not be charged with anything. A minor under the abusive thumb of an adult who did something horrible. The shooter is dead. This is a child. She can't consent to the relationship or be in control of anything that went on.