UTAH COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) – It has been seven years since Utah County Sheriff Sgt. Cory Wride lost his life and as friends, and as the community remembers his ultimate sacrifice, his family faces new struggles over the possibility of a re-trial in his death.
Sgt. Wride, a husband and father of five, had served with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office for nearly 20 years when he was killed in the line of duty on January 30, 2014, just nine months before he was set to retire.
Since his death, Utahns have found various ways to honor the fallen officer and keep a promise to never forget his ultimate sacrifice.
In 2014, legislation passed Senate Bill 234, which renamed a portion of S.R. 73 that runs through Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain to Cory B. Wride Memorial Highway.
Along with memorial walks, rides and other events held, the city of Eagle Mountain opened the Cory Wride Memorial Park in 2018 to honor his legacy and have a positive place to remember him and his love of family.
Utah County Sheriff’s dispatchers Jenny Frazier Relyea, Alex Wall, and Kathleen Provestgard recently paid tribute to Sgt. Wride on Jan 30, at 1 p.m., the time officials believe he died.
Sgt. Wride’s widow, Nannette Wride-Zeeman, has spent the years since his death honoring her late husband’s memory. Ms. Wride-Zeeman created the Blue Haven Foundation, which was formed to help other widows and families of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, and she also founded the Utah Code 4 Foundation, which worked to provide officers with ballistic vests and protective equipment and outfits patrol vehicles with bulletproof glass as well as educate the public on how law enforcement operates.
Sgt. Wride was ambushed after he pulled up behind a car that was parked along Highway 73. He returned to his patrol car to run a check on the names the couple had given him, when, according to documents, Angel Garcia-Juaregui, 27, told his girlfriend 17-year-old, Megan Grunwald, to step on the gas as he shot and killed Sgt. Wride.
After shooting Sgt. Wride, Grunwald tried to escape and was pursued by law enforcement in a high-speed pursuit that involved multiple police departments and spanned over both Utah and Juab Counties. During the chase, Garcia-Juaregui shot and critically injured Deputy Greg Sherwood before carjacking a pregnant woman at gunpoint.
Eventually, Garcia-Juaregui was shot and killed during a subsequent gun battle with deputies from the Juab County Sherriff’s Office, and Grunwald was taken into custody.
After a long, emotionally-taxing trial, Grunwald was convicted of 11 charges, including first-degree aggravated murder and first-degree attempted aggravated murder, and sentenced to 30-years to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
But, in 2018, the Utah Court of Appeals reversed her conviction for the attempted murder of Sherwood, indicating improper jury instructions. They did, however, uphold the murder of Sgt. Cory Wride and the attempted aggravated robbery.
Then, in 2020, the Utah Supreme Court reversed Grunwald’s convictions, which opened the door to a new trial and ripped open the emotional wounds Wride’s family has spent years trying to heal.
Wride-Zeeman says their daughter was 14-years-old at the time of the last trial and did not attend the hearings. But now that she is 21, and should another trial eventuate, she has expressed her desire to be present in the courtroom.
“I am not sure if I can emotionally go through another trial,” says Wride-Zeeman. “Just thinking about it makes me super emotional and terrifies me all at the same time. I want to protect my children from ever going through what we did the first time.”
Wride-Zeeman says she recognizes that she has little control over how long Gunwald will actually spend in prison since the ultimate decision will be left to the Utah Board of Pardons.
“I had to really ask myself what justice looks like for me and my children,” Wride-Zeeman continues.
“I want her to accept and admit that she killed Cory and her part in it. Where ever she is in her life, I want her to know that she is walking around as a murderer who took the life of a good person.”
Wride’s family said they want Grunwald to takes accountability for her actions, not like in the last trial where she pointed fingers at everyone but herself.
“She had so many excuses about how things ended up the way they did,” says Wride-Zeeman. “But the bottom line was all she needed to do was let Cory know she needed his help, and he would have died trying to save her.”
The Utah County Attorney’s office tells ABC4 they have spent the last year going over all the options and would not confirm if they are considering offering a plea deal but did say they have been consulting with members of Wride’s family and really want to do what is best for everyone.
In the meantime, Wride’s family holds their breath and waits, saying “We want it to go whichever way it is going to and be done with it, we want to be able to move forward from the tragedy, but it feels like we are just stuck in it.”