18-year-old woman faces trial next year in Utah deputy's killing after rejecting plea deal

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SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah woman is expected to stand trial early next year in the killing of a Utah County sheriff's deputy after she rejected a plea deal from prosecutors Monday.

Defense attorney Dean Zabriskie said the agreement would not guarantee Meagan Grunwald, 18, a shorter prison sentence than if she is convicted of murder, attempted murder and 10 other charges.

Grunwald says her 27-year-old boyfriend, Angel Garcia-Juaregui, forced her at gunpoint to participate in the Jan. 30 crime spree that left Utah County sheriff's Sgt. Cory Wride dead and another deputy injured.

Garcia-Juaregui shot the officers, but prosecutors say Grunwald, who was 17 at the time, drove the couple across multiple counties during a police chase and was a willing participant in criminal acts, including a carjacking.

The chase ended in a shootout with police that killed Garcia-Juaregui. Grunwald was charged under state laws making assisting in a crime nearly as serious as committing it.

Under the plea deal, Grunwald would have faced 15 years to life in prison if she pleaded guilty to murder, robbery and assault. Prosecutors offered to recommend she only serve 15 years, but that wouldn't prevent a judge or state parole officials from keeping the young woman in prison for the rest of her life.

"We're always open to some resolution," Zabriskie said Monday. "But we're miles from it now."

Deputy Utah County Attorney Sam Pead said there are no other deals on the table, The Salt Lake Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/1y65rOj ).

Besides murder and attempted murder, Grunwald is charged with obstructing justice, aggravated robbery and use of a controlled substance. The teenager tested positive for methamphetamine after the chase, court records show.

Grunwald could face 25 years to life in prison if convicted. She is ineligible for the death penalty because she was under 18 when the crime was committed. Her trial is scheduled to start Feb. 10 in Provo.

A day before the chase, an arrest warrant had been issued for Garcia-Juaregui that alleged violations of his parole conditions. He was paroled from a Utah prison in December 2012 after serving 4 1/2 years for attempted homicide.


Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com

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