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Attorneys for teen charged in Utah deputies' shooting ask for change of venue

Published June 12, 2014 2:31 pm

Courts • Meagan Grunwald faces felony charges in chase, gunplay that left one officer dead, another wounded.
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Attorneys for a teenager charged in connection with a January shooting spree that killed one law enforcement officer and injured another have asked a judge to move her case out of Utah County if it goes to trial.

Meagan Grunwald, 17, has pleaded not guilty to 10 felonies and two misdemeanors connected to the Jan. 30 events.

On Wednesday, her attorneys filed a motion seeking a change of venue, arguing that pretrial publicity has tainted the potential jury pool.

"Both officers who were shot had (and one continues to have) excellent standing in their respective counties," attorney Rhome Zabriskie wrote in the motion. "And they are now recognized as heros, in part, due to this incident."

Zabriskie also wrote that Grunwald "has been cast in a very unfavorable light" in news stories, which has created too great a risk for unfair bias in Utah County.

Grumwald and her boyfriend, 27-year-old Jose Angel Garcia-Jauregui, drove through two counties as he shot at police. Utah County sheriff's Sgt. Cory Wride was killed, while Utah County sheriff's Deputy Greg Sherwood was shot in the head and survived.

Grunwald's attorneys also argue that there is potential bias if the trial is held in Utah County, because the bailiffs and security officers are from the Utah County Sheriff's Office — where both Wride and Sherwood were employed at the time of the shooting.

"Regardless of efforts made at impartiality, jurors might feel pressure to reach a guilty verdict to vindicate the death of a local law enforcement officer," Zabriskie wrote. "Therefore, the case should not be tried in Utah County."

Grunwald is expected to be in court again on June 23.

The Draper teenager is charged with aggravated murder for Wride's 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.

After the high-speed chase and shootings that spanned Utah and Juab counties, Garcia-Jauregui was shot in the head by Juab County deputies. He died the next day.

Grunwald could be sentenced to up to life in prison if convicted. She is being held behind bars 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