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Change-of-venue: Defense cites publicity of slain Utah officer

Published July 21, 2014 12:32 pm

Courts • Defense attorney Dean Zabriskie says that once the issue of where the trial will be held is resolved, a trial date will be set.
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Provo • Attorneys will argue next month in front of a judge whether 17-year-old Meagan Grunwald should go to trial in Utah County or another county.

The teen is 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.

Defense attorney Dean Zabriskie has asked for a change of venue in her case, arguing that Grunwald will be unable to get a fair trial in Utah County because of pretrial publicity and because slain Sgt. Cory Wride and wounded Deputy Greg Sherwood worked for the Utah County Sheriff's Office.

During a brief court appearance Monday, Zabriskie told the judge that he would like to have oral arguments on the motion, and the judge set an Aug. 4 date.

Zabriskie said that once the issue of where the trial will be held is resolved, a trial date will be set.

"Neither side is pushing for a resolution at this level," he said outside of court in reference to a plea deal.

Wride was killed on a road near Lehi; 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.

Prosecutors are opposed to the potential venue change. Chief Deputy Juab County Attorney AnnMarie Howard argued in her response brief that the "standing" of the victims does not create a situation where a change of venue is warranted.

"The defendant cannot show that the victims were anything more than honest, hardworking men," Howard wrote. "…who were not in the public eye and held no sway over the citizens of Utah County. Having some well-deserved awards and honors from January to present, does not take away their private citizen status resulting in a need for a change of venue."

Howard also argued that media coverage was statewide, not just in Utah County.

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

Grunwald is charged as an accomplice with aggravated murder for 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