Widows of fallen officers share their courtroom experiences

May 14, 2024, 7:03 PM | Updated: 7:08 pm

PROVO One day after burying their husband, father, and best friend, the family of Santaquin Police Sgt. Bill Hooser is now preparing themselves to spend a lot of time at the Provo Courthouse.

That’s where the court proceedings will happen for the man accused of killing Hooser. Michael Jayne was officially charged Tuesday morning by the Utah County Attorney’s Office of nine felony counts including aggravated murder. The aggravated murder charge puts the death penalty on the table.

Nine charges filed against driver accused of killing Sgt. Hooser

No one knows the challenges of court proceedings for fallen officers better than Nannette Wride-Zeenan and Shante Johnson, both the widows of fallen officers.

Widows share their experiences

Wride-Zeenan’s husband Utah County Sheriff Deputy Cory Wride was killed in 2014. And Johnson’s husband Draper police officer Derek Johnson was shot and killed in 2013. Both families spent months in court proceedings.

“It just keeps reopening wounds for the family,” Johnson said to KSL TV. “It’s very taxing and emotionally taxing for the families, and it’s month after month, and things are in place to be seen and in court, and then the day of or moments before it can be, you know, postponed. It was miserable.”

For Wride-Zeenan, the woman who was an accomplice in her husband’s murder, Meagan Grunwald, was convicted only to have that conviction later overturned.

“It was so hard,” Wride-Zeenan said. “I’ve just had to come to accept that, justice is out of my control. I can’t control it. I personally feel like anyone that would harm a police officer should get the maximum penalty. It shouldn’t be a question in our state.”

For Johnson, the death penalty was on the table for Timothy Troy Walker, but she said her family opted not to seek it, to keep them out of court.

“I didn’t seek death penalty just because I did not want to drag myself and my son and my family through that,” she said. “It doesn’t make it right for everyone,” she said. “I had my day in court where I got to see Timothy Troy Walker, read a letter to him of my feelings and how Ben [my son] and I would have to learn how to survive without Derek and what he took from us. And for me personally, that was the justice and closure that I needed.”

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Widows of fallen officers share their courtroom experiences