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Teen accused in shooting death of Sgt. Cory Wride rejects plea deal; case heads to trial

Meagan Grunwald, a 17-year-old charged with aggravated murder in the death of Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Cory Wride, appears in a Provo courtroom on April 17, 2014. Grunwald rejected a plea deal Monday.
Meagan Grunwald, a 17-year-old charged with aggravated murder in the death of Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Cory Wride, appears in a Provo courtroom on April 17, 2014. Grunwald rejected a plea deal Monday.
Rick Egan

PROVO — The woman accused in connection with the shooting death of Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Cory Wride rejected a plea deal Monday.

Rather than pleading guilty in exchange for being sentenced to a minimum of 15 years in prison, Meagan Dakota Grunwald, 18, will now go to trial. If she is convicted on a charge of aggravated murder, she could be sentenced to life in the Utah State Prison.

Monday was the deadline for Grunwald and her attorney to either accept a plea deal or prepare for trial. During Monday's pretrial hearing in 4th District Court, Grunwald's attorney Dean Zabriskie acknowledged that while 15 years in prison was a "substantial step down" to what she potentially faces if convicted, "she never even came close to accepting that."

Grunwald was 17 years old when she and her boyfriend, Jose Angel Garcia-Juaregui, 27, led police on a Jan. 30 crime spree that started with the shooting death of Wride in Eagle Mountain and the shooting of Utah County Sheriff's deputy Greg Sherwood in Santaquin. That was followed by an alleged carjacking in Nephi, and shooting at pursuing officers on I-15 before Garcia-Juaregui was killed in a final shootout with police on I-15 south of Nephi.

Although prosecutors say Garcia-Juaregui fired all of the shots, they contend that Grunwald was a willing participant who was behind the wheel and continued to follow her boyfriend even when she had the chance to run from him.

Grunwald is expected to argue that she was under Garcia-Juaregui's control and forced to be the getaway driver or face potential harm herself.

She is charged as an adult with aggravated murder, two counts of attempted aggravated murder, felony discharge of a firearm, and aggravated robbery — all first-degree felonies.

Grunwald is also charged with criminal mischief, a second-degree felony; two counts of felony discharge of a firearm, possession or use of a controlled substance, and failure to respond at the command of police, all third-degree felonies; criminal mischief, a class A misdemeanor; and violation of operator duties for an accident involving property damage, a class B misdemeanor.

Sherwood was in court Monday, just in case Grunwald took the deal. Both the Sherwood and Wride families are now preparing to go through a trial.

"We're fine, and we'll move forward with the judicial system," Blake Wride, Cory's father, said outside of court Monday.

Trial is scheduled to begin in February.

Contributing: Sam Penrod

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam