Provo • A judge ruled Monday the trial for 17-year-old Meagan Grunwald will stay in Utah County.
The teen’s attorney, Dean Zabriskie, had argued that she will be unable to get a fair trial there because of pretrial publicity and because slain Sgt. Cory Wride and wounded Deputy Greg Sherwood worked for the Utah County Sheriff’s Office.
But after the ruling was handed down Monday, Zabriskie said that the case may not actually reach trial. He told reporters that they’ll meet with prosecutors to discuss plea negotiations before Grunwald appears in court again Aug. 18 for a scheduling conference.
Zabriskie said they are "looking for a walk," but noted they know Grunwald won’t be released without serving any time behind bars unless they take the case to trial.
"What happens in 15 or 16 years?" Zabriskie said. "Her life is left behind her. She’ll be a convicted felon, a murderess."
Grunwald faces up to life in prison. She is charged in adult court with 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.
Zabriskie argued in front of the judge Monday that along with media reports, the Utah County community continues to memorialize the officers who were wounded in the shooting. They have become public figures in the wake of the January shooting, he argued.
Zabriskie also argued the bailiffs at the Provo courthouse are employed by the Utah County Sheriff’s Office — the same office that Wride and Sherwood worked for at the time of the shooting — may have a "subliminal impact" on the jurors.
Deputy Juab County Attorney AnnMarie Howard —who is also prosecuting the case because some of Grunwald’s alleged crimes occurred there — argued the media attention was state and nationwide, not just in Utah County. She also argued that half a million people live in Utah County, and it is large enough to be able to seat eight impartial jurors.
Fourth District Judge Darold McDade ultimately sided with prosecutors, deciding that the county was large enough to seat a jury, and ruled that neither Grunwald nor the wounded officers were considered public figures.
"Although the victims were police officers," McDade said, "they are not public officials because they are fallen officers."
Wride’s parents said they were happy that the case would stay in Utah County.
"He served the community and he loved the community," mother Kathy Wride said of her son. "And chose to raise his family in the community."
Grunwald is charged as an accomplice with aggravated murder for Wride’s Jan. 30 death and attempted aggravated murder for the wounding of Sherwood. The teen also faces eight other felonies.
Grunwald 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.
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