Judge limits news coverage of Utah teen charged with murder

By stephen hunt

The Salt Lake Tribune

Published: April 15, 2014 01:24PM
Updated: May 12, 2014 01:05PM
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Jose Garcia-Jauregui

A judge is limiting television and photographic coverage of a preliminary hearing for a 17-year-old Draper girl charged as an accomplice in a January shooting spree that resulted in the death of one police officer and the wounding of another.

Meagan Dakota Grunwald is charged as an adult with aggravated murder, a first-degree felony, and 11 other charges related to the death of Utah County Sgt. Cory Wride near Lehi and the wounding of Utah County Sheriff’s Deputy Greg Sherwood in Santaquin.

Fourth District Judge Darold McDade last week issued an order prohibiting the media and the general public from taking pictures or recording, in any fashion, exhibits that are offered during a preliminary hearing set to begin Wednesday.

According to a motion filed by Utah County prosecutors, much of the evidence in the case consists of dash-camera video which depicts “the killing of a police officer, the shooting of another officer, shots being fired at other officers, the hi-jacking of a vehicle, and video images surrounding the eventual shooting of the suspect in this case [27-year-old Jose Angel Garcia-Jauregui, who was fatally injured by police] and the apprehension of the defendant [Grunwald].”

The judge also has prohibited any pictures or recordings of an undercover officer referred to as “officer #1” in court documents, but Deputy Utah County Attorney Sam Pead said Tuesday afternoon that prosecutors have decided not to call the officer to the witness stand during the preliminary hearing, after all.

Pead, who penned the state’s motion, claimed that limiting electronic media coverage of the hearing will “avoid creating greater adverse effects” than those imposed on the media by limiting their coverage.

Pead also wrote that the state was “simply looking to preserve the integrity of its case and the safety of its witnesses.”

Attorney Rhome Zabriskie, who represents Grunwald, did not object to the prosecution’s motion.

Grunwald’s boyfriend, Garcia-Jauregui, did all the shooting, according to police. However, prosecutors say Grunwald played an active role in the Jan. 30 events by driving her truck while Garcia-Jauregui fired out the back window.

But the girl’s attorneys have said she is “as much of a victim in this case as anyone else,” and that “she was totally intimidated by [Garcia-Jauregui.]”

Grunwald, who is being held at the Salt Lake County jail, faces a maximum penalty of life in prison without parole if convicted of aggravated murder. Because she is a minor, she is not eligible for the death penalty.

Along with the aggravated murder charge, an amended information filed Tuesday also charges Grunwald with two counts of attempted aggravated murder, three counts of felony discharge of a firearm, two counts of criminal mischief, aggravated robbery, failure to respond to an officer, possession or use of a controlled substance and violation of operator duties after an accident.

Pead said this amended information differs from the original charges in that two charges of obstruction of justice and one charge of discharge of a firearm were removed because they overlapped with other charges, and one count of criminal mischief was added to account for another vehicle that was allegedly damaged during the crime spree.

Garcia-Jauregui died at a hospital Jan. 31, the day after Juab County deputies ended the shot and wounded him in the head in Interstate 15 south of Nephi.

Events began in Utah County at about 1 p.m. on Jan. 30, when Wride stopped his patrol car on State Road 73 about 5 miles west of Lehi to check on a pulled-over Toyota Tundra pickup truck driven by Grunwald.

Wride was sitting in his patrol car checking information given to him by Grunwald and Garcia-Jauregui when Garcia-Jauregui opened the back sliding window of the truck and shot and killed the officer. The girl then sped away from the scene, according to court documents, which rely on dash cam footage from Wride’s vehicle.

Police believe Grunwald was still driving the truck when she encountered Utah County Sheriff’s Deputy Greg Sherwood in Santaquin.

As 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, where the truck’s tires were spiked. They 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.

According to charging documents, Grunwald and Garcia-Jauregui had been living together for several months at the teen’s mother’s home in Draper. The couple planned to wed when Grunwald turned 18 in August.

The girl’s grandmother, Renate Grunwald, told The Salt Lake Tribune that her granddaughter met Garcia-Jauregui six months before the fatal shooting. Both were working at a meat packaging plant in Draper.

Renate Grunwald said when Garcia-Jauregui moved into Grunwald’s home, it set off a conflict between her parents, Jerry Grunwald and Tori Grunwald. Jerry — who is Renate’s son — wanted Garcia-Jauregui out of the house but, according to Renate, Tori wanted to let him stay.

Garcia-Jauregui was paroled in December 2012 from the Utah State Prison after serving five years of a one-to-15-year sentence for 2008 convictions for attempted murder and aggravated assault.

shunt@sltrib.com