- Associated Press - Thursday, May 7, 2015

PROVO, Utah (AP) - A Utah teenager on trial in a crime spree that left a deputy dead was willing to do anything to stay with her boyfriend, a prosecutor said Thursday as he tried to counter her tearful testimony a day earlier that she drove the getaway car because he threatened to kill her.

Prosecutor Sam Pead contested the account by 18-year-old Meagan Grunwald that her boyfriend had forced her to drive during the violent January 2014 chase that also injured another deputy.

The case is expected to go to a jury after closing arguments Friday.

Pead said Grunwald loved 27-year-old Jose Angel Garcia-Jauregui and slammed on the brakes of her truck at one point so he could take aim at a deputy then drove away at speeds of more than 100 mph.

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

“In truth, no thing and no person were going to get in the way of being with Angel,” Pead said.

He said Grunwald was afraid Garcia-Jauregui would go back to prison if Utah County sheriff’s Sgt. Corey Wride found out about a warrant for her boyfriend after Wride approached the truck while it was stopped along a road.

When the deputy got suspicious about a fake name, Garcia-Jauregui stuck a gun out the pickup’s back window and shot him before Grunwald drove away, authorities said.

She tearfully testified Wednesday that she only stayed behind the wheel because Garcia-Jauregui threatened to kill her and her family.

But Pead closely questioned her Thursday about why she didn’t try to escape.

“Why not jump out of the car when you have a police officer right there?” he said.

“Because I couldn’t find the courage,” she replied.

Grunwald spoke almost in a whisper during the testimony, prompting a judge to tell her to talk louder, and she broke down in tears when she stepped down from the stand during a recess.

Shown video of her truck doing a hairpin turn after Garcia-Jauregui shot and wounded another deputy, she acknowledged that her driving appeared to be someone in control of the vehicle.

But she denied reports from police that she swore at officers after Garcia-Jauregui was killed, and she maintained that she refused to give up a ring from Garcia-Jauregui because she wanted her mother to be able to sell it to support herself, not because she still loved him.

On the stand Wednesday, Grunwald said she was trying to break up with Garcia-Jauregui when she pulled over to the side of the road that day in January 2014. She said she was terrified after seeing the gun for the first time and only followed him to protect her family.

Thursday marked the eighth day of her trial. If convicted, Grunwald could be sentenced to up to life in prison.

She isn’t eligible for the death penalty because she was 17 when the alleged crimes happened.

Along with aggravated murder and attempted murder, Grunwald is charged with aggravated robbery and use of a controlled substance.

Though she did not fire the gun, prosecutors said her actions that day show she was a willing accomplice and equally responsible for the violence.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide