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Change-of-venue request delays Utah teen's murder case

Published June 23, 2014 10:16 am

Courts • Meagan Grunwald, 17, is charged in shooting spree that left one officer dead and another wounded.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Provo • Until a judge decides whether 17-year-old Meagan Grunwald's case will be tried in Utah County or another venue, attorneys said Monday they aren't ready to set a trial date for the teen charged in connection with a January shooting spree, in which she and her boyfriend allegedly tore through two counties as he shot and killed one police officer and wounded another.

During a brief court hearing on Monday, Deputy Utah County Attorney Sam Pead told 4th District Judge Darold McDade that he needs two weeks to respond to a motion to change venue filed by Grunwald's attorney.

Defense attorney Dean Zabriskie claims Grunwald will be unable to get a fair trial in Utah County because the shooting victims were sheriff's officers.

Utah County sheriff's Sgt. Cory Wride was killed on a road near Lehi; Utah County sheriff's Deputy Greg Sherwood was wounded in Santaquin.

Zabriskie notes in his motion that much of the news coverage "has highlighted what a great loss the Utah County community has suffered with the death of this deputy."

"Both officers who were shot ... are now recognized as heroes, in part, due to this incident," Zabriskie adds.

Pead said outside of court on Monday that prosecutors needed more time to evaluate what has been published in the media, and how the fact that the victims were police officers could sway a potential Utah County juror.

"I think in that sense, it's a pretty unique situation," Pead said.

Zabriskie said in his motion that the 3rd District Court in West Jordan appears the most appropriate place to hold the trial, not only because of its close proximity to Utah County, but also because Salt Lake County offers "a large and diverse jury pool ..."

The teen will be back in court July 21.

Earlier this month, prosecutors and defense attorneys said that settlement negotiations were being discussed for Grunwald, but Zabriskie said he didn't believe a plea deal was a "viable alternative" at that time.

Zabriskie said if a settlement is not reached, he anticipates a trial in late fall.

The teenage Draper girl — charged as an adult — has pleaded not guilty to 10 felonies and two misdemeanors for the Jan. 30 events that also left her boyfriend, 27-year-old Jose Angel Garcia-Jauregui, dead.

Grunwald is charged with aggravated murder for the Wride's Jan. 30 death, and attempted aggravated murder for the wounding of Sherwood.

She also faces two counts of discharge of a firearm, two counts of attempted aggravated murder and aggravated robbery — all first-degree felonies — as well as obstructing justice, failure to respond to an officer, possession or use of a controlled substance and lesser charges of felony discharge of a firearm and misdemeanor criminal mischief and violation of operator duties after an accident.

Grunwald could be sentenced to up to life in prison if convicted. She is being held at the Salt Lake County jail on a $1 million cash-only bail.

She was ordered in April to stand trial after a judge found there was enough probable cause — in dash-cam footage, photographs and witness testimony — to move the case forward.

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller