Meagan Grunwald Conviction Overturned By Utah Supreme Court
Feb 22, 2020, 12:54 PM | Updated: 5:00 pm
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Supreme Court has overturned the murder conviction of Meagan Grunwald.
Grunwald was the getaway driver for her boyfriend, who shot and killed Utah County Sheriff Sgt. Cory Wride in 2014. Grunwald was originally found equally liable for Wride’s death.
Utah’s High Court ruled that there was a reasonable probability a jury would not have convicted the now 23-year-old if it weren’t for errors in jury instructions during her trial.
Wride’s widow, Nannette Wride, was extremely emotional when she heard the news of the reversal on Friday.
“I stand in utter shock and numbness, because I don’t understand,” she said. “I am ashamed of the state we live in. Cory pulled up behind someone with their hazards on that snowy day. He was there to help them, and he was shot to death. To have the conviction overturned is like losing six years of healing. It’s incredibly painful.”
Grunwald remained in prison, where she has been since July 2015, on a remaining conviction of aggravated robbery tied to the car chase, which also wounded Utah County Sheriff’s deputy Greg Sherwood.
The first-degree felony charge carries a sentence of at least five years and up to life.
Brent Jex, president of the Utah Fraternal Order of Police, spoke for the nearly 4,000 members of the police union, advocating for a retrial and final justice for Sgt. Wride.
“The facts are there. The elements are there. The need for justice is there,” Jex said. “The decision to retry could be made today, even within the hour by Utah County Attorney David Leavitt.”
Members of the order were waiting to see what action the Utah County prosecutor will take, if any.
“This affects our community, the ways we function, and the safety we feel here,” said Shante Johnson, communications director for the Utah Fraternal Order of Police. “Grunwald 100% was not a victim. She participated wholly in what happened that tragic day.”
Grunwald’s attorneys took the argument to the Utah Court of Appeals in 2018, where they failed to overturn the conviction. However, the Utah Supreme Court ruled in favor of the faulty jury instruction, reversing the capital murder conviction.
“For that technicality to be a single word is rare,” Jex said. “Whether the law enforcement community can feel confidence that the Utah County prosecutor will do the right thing… we are about to find out, and the effect will be significant.”
The Utah Fraternal Order of Police released a statement on the overturned conviction on Friday:
“Our hearts are heavy with the news that the Wride family, their friends, the community, and every man and woman serving in law enforcement will be forced to re-live the trauma that Meagan Grunwald inflicted upon them with her callous and murderous actions.
“Today, the Utah Supreme Court ordered a retrial based on technicality – that the original judge issued slightly faulty instructions to the jury. We are all called upon to make difficult judgements, and will not turn our anger upon the justices. However, let there be no doubt – on that day, Ms. Grunwald actively participated in the murder of Sergeant Cory Wride, and she should pay for her actions by spending the rest of her life in prison.
“We are confident that the horror of that day will once again be taken up by the brave, extraordinarily dedicated prosecutors of the Utah County Attorney’s Office under the leadership of Utah County Attorney David Leavitt. On behalf of our nearly 4,000 members, we stand by to support those efforts and see final justice for Sergeant Wride – with the life imprisonment of his murderer. Let the people of Utah County be called once again to hear the horrific details of Ms. Grunwald’s actions, and let them once again order her removed from society for the rest of her days. There are no jury instructions that will save her.
“We leave you with Ms. Grunwald’s words to officers at the end of the chase she led them on that day, which included shooting a second officer in the face. As she discovered her lover laying in the road, she did not ask police for help, nor was she distressed that officers had been shot and killed. Instead, she saved her concern for her boyfriend: ‘You f—— a——-, you didn’t have to shoot him. You f—— shot him. Oh my god, you f—— shot him.'”