“You [Expletive] Shot Him!” Unwilling Participant?

“You [Expletive] Shot Him!  You [Expletive] Shot Him!”  Unwilling Participant?

By Ken K. Gourdin

Meagan Grunwald, charged, along with her then-boyfriend, with aggravated capital murder and attempted murder when the latter shot and wounded Utah County Sheriff’s Deputy Greg Sherwood and shot and killed Utah County Sheriff’s Sergeant Cory Wride as they fled after shooting the latter when he stopped to check on their vehicle when it was parked on the side of the road, has had her conviction overturned based on faulty jury instructions given to the jury that convicted her.  For coverage of the reversal in Salt Lake City’s Deseret News, see here (last accessed May 29, 2020):

https://www.deseret.com/utah/2020/2/21/21147864/utah-supreme-court-murder-sergeant-cory-wride-meagan-grunwald-girlfriend-man-utah-county

Much has been made of Ms. Grunwald’s youth, as she was 17 years old at the time Garcia shot and gravely wounded Deputy Sherwood and shot and killed Sergeant Wride.  Many see Ms. Grunwald as an unwilling participant, a scared teenager simply going along in an attempt to placate the older, much more mercurial Garcia, and that’s how her defense team has attempted to portray her involvement in Mr. Garcia’s crimes.

It should be noted that the state of Utah does not handle accomplice liability in the same way that some other jurisdictions do.  Utah does not, for example, differentiate between principals and their accomplices, or between accomplice liability before the fact and after the fact.  Even if she doesn’t pull the trigger, if an accomplice plays a significant enough role in facilitating a shooter’s nefarious designs which result in the death of another, she can be charged with the same crimes as the shooter.

For reasons never explained to me, the Deseret News rejected the comment which follows:

Assuming Ms. Grunwald is retried, I don’t know what a jury will decide concerning her fate after that jury hears evidence pertaining to the totality of the circumstances of the aggravated assault and/or attempted murder on Deputy Greg Sherwood and the murder of Sergeant Cory Wride and is properly instructed regarding the level of culpability necessary to find Ms. Grunwald guilty of the crimes with which she is [will be] charged.  However, if I were trying the case, I would say something like this in my opening and/or closing argument: “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you’ve heard [or will  hear] a lot of arguments about how the defendant, allegedly, was an immature 17-year-old, how she allegedly fell under the spell of the older, manipulative, conniving Jose Angel Garcia Jauregui.”

“As you weigh the evidence and attempt to come to a conclusion about whether Mr. Garcia’s alleged manipulation reduces the defendant’s culpability, don’t forget one thing.  Don’t forget what the defendant said when officers shot her boyfriend.  Did she say, ‘Oh, officers, thank you so much for saving me from that raving maniac!’?  Did she say, ‘He kidnapped me,’ or ‘I thought he was going to kill me’?  No. She said, ‘You [expletive deleted] shot him!’  She said, ‘You [expletive deleted] shot him!'”  Dispositive, in light of the totality of the circumstances the jury will weigh?  Perhaps, perhaps not.  Again, a jury will have to decide.  But telling?  Absolutely.  Very, very telling.

She’s lucky I wasn’t at the scene where her boyfriend was shot.  I would have said, “You’re [expletive] right they [expletive] shot him!  He [expletive] shot two police officers!”

About kenngo1969

Just as others must breathe to live, I must write. I have been writing creatively almost ever since I learned to write, period! I have written fiction, book- and article-length nonfiction, award-winning poetry, news, sports, features, and op-eds. I hope, one day, to write some motivational nonfiction, a decent-selling novel, a stage play, and a screen play.
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