This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Provo • The message from the family of slain Utah County's Sheriff's Sgt. Cory Wride to the teenager convicted of crimes connected to his murder was clear Wednesday: You are forgiven.
And you deserve a second chance.
On a snowy January day in 2014, Meagan Grunwald drove the getaway vehicle as her boyfriend shot from the back window at police officers and others during a two-county spree that left Wride dead, severely injured another deputy, and ended with police fatally shooting Grunwald's boyfriend, 27-year-old Jose Angel Garcia-Jauregui.
During Wednesday's nearly two-hour sentencing hearing for Grunwald convicted by a jury in May of aggravated murder and other crimes for her role in the day's events members of Wride's family each told the judge that they wanted the 18-year-old to have another chance at a life.
But they also said they felt she needed some punishment.
"I want you to know from the bottom of my heart, you were forgiven immediately," Wride's wife, Nannette Wride, told Grunwald. "You are forgiven and, sweet girl, I hope you can forgive yourself."
Grunwald, who was 17 at the time of the crimes, faced two possible sentences for her first-degree felony aggravated murder conviction: Life in prison without the possibility of parole, or an indeterminate term of 25 years to life with the chance to be released.
All of Wride's family asked that she be given the opportunity to be paroled someday.
"As a mother and an educator, I realize that young people don't always make good choices," Cory Wride's mother, Kathy Wride, told the judge. "She is young, but by law, she must pay the penalty. … [But] I also believe in second chances."
Fourth District Judge Darold McDade followed the family's recommendation, ordering Grunwald to serve 25 years to life at the Utah State Prison. He also ordered that a five-years-to-life aggravated robbery sentence run consecutive to the aggravated murder conviction.
The judge, however, ordered the remaining nine charges including a count of attempted aggravated murder for the shooting of Deputy Greg Sherwood to run concurrent to the other sentences. This means Grunwald will be in prison for at least 30 years before she is considered for parole.
"You've been given some sense of hope here, I know it doesn't seem like much," the judge told the teen.
Sherwood who was shot in the head Jan. 30, 2014, by Garcia-Jauregui told the judge Wednesday of the damage the bullet caused, and his subsequent surgeries and slow recovery. He said he still hasn't been able to return to work in uniform, and struggles with his balance, hearing, and other physical limitations.
"My family and I are not going to let this incident ruin us," Sherwood told the judge. "… My family and I are not going to let anger, hatred and bitterness consume us. We would look forward to closure and are still trying to find our new normal. We have forgiveness for Meagan so we can move forward."
Sherwood did not ask for a specific sentence for Grunwald, telling the judge only that he wanted her punishment to be "just and fair."
When Grunwald had her chance to address the judge, she apologized tearfully, saying she regretted her actions.
"It's hard for me to ask for forgiveness when I cannot forgive myself," she said.
Deputy Utah County Attorney Sam Pead said after the sentencing that it was "humbling" to see forgiveness from the Wride and Sherwood families.
"You feel kind of a ferocity about cases, about defendants," Pead said. "I wouldn't say you dehumanize them, but you get this kind of aggression that comes out of litigation. And then you see the people that are really affected by it feeling immense mercy and compassion for someone like this. … When you see that kind of compassion expressed, and forgiveness after such horrific events it's nothing short of humbling and definitely remarkable."
Before the sentence was handed down, Grunwald's attorney, Dean Zabriskie, asked the judge to consider Grunwald's young age in making his decision. He said she has done well at the jail, but suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and has nightly nightmares about the shootings.
"She told me she sees in her dreams, every night, Sgt. Wride's face," Zabriskie said. "She counts him as her savior."
Grunwald testified at trial that on the day of the shootings while on a drive with Garcia-Jauregui he learned during a phone call that the parole board had issued an warrant for his arrest.
As they were stopped at the side of the road in Utah County, Wride happened to pull up to see if they needed help. When Wride asked their names, Garcia-Jauregui gave a false name.
The teen testified that as Wride checked their information in his patrol vehicle, Garcia-Jauregui told her that if she didn't do what he said, he would shoot her and kill her family.
Soon after, Garcia-Jauregui killed Wride, 44, by shooting out the rear window of Grunwald's pickup truck.
Later that day, Garcia-Jauregui shot and wounded Sherwood in Santaquin.
Prosecutors pointed to police dashboard-camera recordings and witness testimony as evidence to counter Grunwald's claims that she was threatened by her boyfriend. They claim she was a willing participant who was compelled by her love and loyalty to Garcia-Jauregui, who was fatally wounded that day during a shootout in Nephi.
email@example.com Twitter: @jm_miller