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Pregnant teen charged with murder in Utah crime spree

By Brady McCombs / Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 4:33 p.m. HST, Feb 18, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY » A teenage girl authorities say planned to marry the man who killed a sheriff's deputy in a cross-county crime spree and was pregnant with his child was charged Tuesday with aggravated murder and other crimes.

Prosecutors said Meagan Grunwald, 17, of Draper, was a willing participant and was driving the pickup truck when Jose Angel Garcia-Juaregui fired at the officers chasing it Jan. 30.

Grunwald was charged as an adult and could face 25 years to life in prison if convicted, court records show. The counts against her include obstructing justice, aggravated robbery and use of a controlled substance. Urine tests revealed Grunwald had methamphetamine in her system, court documents show.

Garcia-Juaregui, 27, killed Utah County sheriff's Sgt. Cory Wride and later wounded Deputy Greg Sherwood in the head before Garcia-Juaregui was fatally shot, authorities said. Sherwood was released from the hospital Tuesday.

During the chase, Grunwald sped away from police in the truck, ran after Garcia-Juaregui when their car crashed, helped pull off a carjacking and resisted arrest, court records show.

The girl's attorney, Neil Skousen, declined to comment. He said late Tuesday that he was no longer representing her because she is being charged as an adult, and the Utah County public defender's office would take over.

After Grunwald's arrest, detectives were told that she met Garcia-Juaregui in July 2013 and began spending most of her time with him, pulling away from old friends. The two were living together for several months at her mother's house in Draper, and they planned to get married when she turned 18 in August and move to Mexico, court records show.

People investigators interviewed after the shooting said Grunwald is pregnant with his child.

As the two were being arrested Jan. 30, Garcia-Juaregui said, "You're not going to let me kiss my girl with my last dying breath?" court records show. He died the next day at a nearby hospital.

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

Grunwald has been in custody since the shooting. Police withheld her name until she was charged.

Utah County Deputy Attorney Chad Grunander declined to elaborate on Grunwald's criminal history. The prosecutor said more details will be released at a news conference Wednesday.

Investigators said the chase began on a rural highway about 35 miles south of Salt Lake City when Wride stopped to check on a truck with its hazard lights on. He was shot when he returned to his patrol car to check the names of the people in the truck.

With Grunwald driving, authorities, said, the duo sped off in the 2003 Toyota Tundra. Sherwood spotted the truck nearly two hours later. During the brief chase, the truck slowed, closing the distance between it and Sherwood. Court records show that Garcia-Juaregui slid open the back window of the truck and fired two shots, hitting Sherwood in the head.

Records also show that Grunwald later collided with another car, then ran after Garcia-Juaregui as they looked for another vehicle. She flagged down an SUV with a woman and her small child inside and hopped into the passenger side as Garcia-Juaregui fired at officers and forced the woman out at gunpoint, court records show.

Investigators say the woman was barely able to get her child from the car seat before Garcia-Juaregui and Grunwald sped off.

The pursuit ended a short time later when that vehicle crashed and officers shot Garcia-Juaregui.

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