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Judge denies motion for new trial for teen convicted of murder in Utah officer’s death

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Posted at 3:37 PM, Feb 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-04 17:40:21-05

UTAH COUNTY — A woman found guilty of aggravated murder in the death of a Utah police officer who alleged the judge in her case was biased has had her motion for a new trial denied.

According to documents filed Tuesday in the Fourth Judicial District Court for Utah, Meagan Grunwald’s motion for a new trial was denied.

The motion alleged the judge in her case, who had presided over previous cases involving the man who killed Utah County sheriff’s deputy Cory Wride, was biased. Grunwald was convicted of multiple felony charges, including aggravated murder, on May 9 2015 and sentenced to 30 years to life with the possibility of parole.

Grunwald was with Jose Angel Garcia-Jauregui when he allegedly shot and killed Wride, who was approaching the pair’s parked vehicle. The pair fled from police in a multi-county chase before Garcia-Jauregui was ultimately shot and killed by police.

The basis of the motion for a new trial stems from an argument that because Judge Darold McDade had presided over previous cases involving Garcia-Jauregui, he was biased against Grunwald, who was dating Garcia-Jauregui. The motion specifically pointed to a statement made at sentencing.

“It’s very hard for me to believe that in the short time that you knew him, you didn’t see that [Angel’s violent predilection] as well,” McDade said during that hearing, according to the document.

In denying the request for a retrial, McDade referenced a ruling from Judge Mortenson on a previous action filed by Grunwald, a motion to disqualify Judge McDade based on the same alleged bias presented in the motion for a new trial.

Mortenson found that the attorneys should have known about McDade’s prior history with the deceased, that the prior association was not a basis for disqualification, and that the statement referenced was taken out of context and did not create cause for disqualification.

The motion for a new trial was filed July 17, 2015 but was effectively stayed when the motion to disqualify was filed later that month. After Mortenson ruled against the motion to disqualify in November of 2015, the court moved on to the motion for a new trial.

In the document filed Tuesday, Judge McDade cited Judge Mortenson’s findings that the prior association and statements cited by Grunwald’s attorneys were not cause for disqualification or evidence of bias, and thus the judge found that there was no, “error or impropriety which had a substantial adverse effect upon the rights of a party”–which is the legal standard for granting a new trial.