- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

PROVO, Utah (AP) - A Utah teenager accused in a 50-mile crime spree that left a sheriff’s deputy dead testified Wednesday that she drove the car because her boyfriend threatened to kill her and her family.

An emotional Meagan Grunwald, 18, said her boyfriend pointed a gun at her head and told her to put her truck in drive just before he fired out the back window.

Grunwald said she didn’t know the deputy was dead when she drove away with 27-year-old Jose Angel Garcia-Jauregui holding the gun.

“The barrel was aimed right at my face,” Grunwald said between sobs, according to The Salt Lake Tribune (https://bit.ly/1GZLugx ). She said the couple never made plans to hurt anyone or run away together, and she thought he’d disabled the deputy’s car.

Prosecutors dispute that version of events. They say Grunwald was in love with the older man, helped him and stayed with him throughout the chase even when she could have escaped. Though she isn’t accused of pulling the trigger, they say she was equally responsible for the violence.

Grunwald is facing a dozen charges that could put her in prison for the rest of her life if she’s convicted. Along with aggravated murder and attempted murder, Grunwald is charged with aggravated robbery and use of a controlled substance.

She took the stand in her own defense Wednesday. She told a Provo jury that she worked multiple jobs to help support her family and stayed out of trouble before she met Garcia-Jauregui through a mutual friend when she was 16 and looking for help with her homework.

He eventually moved into her family’s house, but she said Wednesday that the relationship was ending when she agreed to go for a ride with him in her truck in January 2014.

A day earlier, an arrest warrant had been issued for Garcia-Juaregui that alleged violations of his parole from an attempted homicide conviction.

The chase started when Garcia-Jauregui fatally shot Utah County sheriff’s Sgt. Corey Wride after the deputy pulled over to check on their stopped truck. Garcia-Jauregui shot and wounded a second deputy and stole a woman’s car at gunpoint as the chase crossed through three counties and reached speeds of over 100 mph.

Grunwald said she asked Garcia-Jauregui several times if she could get out of the truck, but he told to keep driving. When her mother called to ask if she’d taken out the trash, he told her to act like everything was fine.

Garcia-Jauregui was killed in a shootout with police after the chase.

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


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