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Teenager to stand trial for murder, other charges in crime spree that left Utah deputy dead

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PROVO, Utah — A Utah judge on Thursday ordered a teenage girl to stand trial for murder and other charges stemming from a crime spree that left one deputy dead and another injured.

Fourth District Court Judge Darold McDade's ruling Thursday morning concluded a two-day hearing as prosecutors laid out evidence against Meagan Grunwald, 17, who was the girlfriend of a 27-year-old man who shot the deputies.

Grunwald, who is being charged as an adult, is scheduled to be back in court on May 12 to enter a plea against the 12 charges she faces.

The teenager is the only surviving suspect from the highway chase and shootout with police on Jan. 30.

Jose Angel Garcia-Juaregui fatally shot Utah County sheriff's Sgt. Cory Wride and wounded another deputy, authorities said. Garcia-Juaregui died from injuries he sustained in the shootout when officers caught up to them.

Prosecutors argued this week that Grunwald was an active participant in the events, including a carjacking.

Defense attorney Dean Zabriskie told reporters Thursday that Grunwald will testify at the trial that Garcia-Juaregui forced her to participate, The Salt Lake Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/1jNZ6QC).

"Her choices were reduced to either comply or give up her own life," Zabriskie said.

On Thursday, prosecutors said telephone records show Grunwald called her mother during the multicounty chase, but neither the teenager nor her mother called 911.

A day earlier, prosecutor Sam Pead showed dash-cam videos from the patrol cars of about half a dozen different officers, including video from Wride's car.

PHOTO: Defense attorney's Rhome Zabriske, left, and Dean Zabriskie, right,  visit with Meagan Grunwald, during  a recess in her preliminary hearing in Judge Darold McDade's courtroom in Provo, Utah on Thursday April 17, 2014.    Grunwald, the only surviving suspect from a highway chase and shootout with police, is facing 12 charges, including aggravated murder and attempted murder of Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Cory Wride.   Her boyfriend, Jose Angel Garcia-Juaregui, 27, fatally shot Wride and injured another deputy during the crime spree, authorities said. Garcia-Juaregui died from wounds suffered in a shootout with Juab County deputies when they caught up to the pair south of Nephi. (AP Photo/The Salt Lake Tribune, Rick Egan, Pool)
Defense attorney's Rhome Zabriske, left, and Dean Zabriskie, right, visit with Meagan Grunwald, during a recess in her preliminary hearing in Judge Darold McDade's courtroom in Provo, Utah on Thursday April 17, 2014. Grunwald, the only surviving suspect from a highway chase and shootout with police, is facing 12 charges, including aggravated murder and attempted murder of Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Cory Wride. Her boyfriend, Jose Angel Garcia-Juaregui, 27, fatally shot Wride and injured another deputy during the crime spree, authorities said. Garcia-Juaregui died from wounds suffered in a shootout with Juab County deputies when they caught up to the pair south of Nephi. (AP Photo/The Salt Lake Tribune, Rick Egan, Pool)

The images show the deputy approach a pickup truck pulled over to the side of a snowy Utah highway and speak to the occupants.

Investigators believe Grunwald was driving the truck and Garcia-Juaregui was the passenger. The truck was registered to Grunwald and her mother.

The video showed Wride return to his vehicle, and minutes later, the truck's lights indicated the breaks were engaged and the driver shifted gears. A rear window of the truck was then slid open and the sound of seven gunshot pops could be heard.

The pickup truck then sped away.

Zabriskie noted the video did not show who may have fired the shots from the pickup truck or what may have happened inside the truck once Wride pulled up.

The charges Grunwald faces stem from Utah laws make aiding and abetting a crime nearly as serious as committing it. Besides murder and attempted murder, the teenager has been charged with obstructing justice, aggravated robbery and use of a controlled substance.

Urine tests revealed she had methamphetamine in her system, court documents show.

The motive for the crime spree remained unclear, but it might have been related to an arrest warrant issued a day earlier 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 could face 25 years to life in prison if convicted. She is ineligible for the death penalty because she is under 18.

Wride's brother-in-law Johnny Revill told the Tribune that the family was relieved the case was going to trial.

"We're confident, as a family," he said, "that justice will be served."

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