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Utah teen convicted in deputy's death going to prison

PROVO, Utah - A Utah teenager convicted in a 50-mile crime spree that left one sheriff's deputy dead and another wounded was sentenced Wednesday to 30 years to life with the possibility of parole.

State Judge Darold McDade handed down the sentence for 18-year-old Meagan Grunwald in the January 2014 chase, which also included a carjacking.

Prosecutors said Grunwald was a willing accomplice ready to do anything to stay with her 27-year-old boyfriend, including driving a speeding getaway car in the three-county chase.

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Meagan Grunwald AP Photo/Utah County Jail

During her trial, the teenager tearfully told a jury she was afraid to stop driving when the man she loved turned the gun on her and threatened to kill her family.

The boyfriend, Jose Angel Garcia-Jauregui, was killed in a shootout with police.

Grunwald was convicted in May of 11 counts, including aggravated murder, attempted murder, aggravated robbery and use of a controlled substance. She was found not guilty on one count of attempted aggravated murder.

The maximum penalty Grunwald could have faced was life in prison. She was ineligible for the death penalty because she was 17 when it happened.

She was charged and convicted under Utah laws that allow an accomplice to be considered equally responsible for a crime.

Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Cory Wride was killed during the crime spree. Another deputy who was shot in the head testified during the trial.

Wride's widow, Nannette, said she was satisfied with Grunwald's conviction.

The shootout and chase were sparked when Wride happened upon the couple's pickup pulled over on the side of the road on a snowy day. Garcia-Jauregui had a warrant out for his arrest and gave the deputy a fake name. When Wride grew suspicious, Garcia-Jauregui stuck a gun out the truck's rear window and shot the deputy as he sat in his police cruiser.

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Meagan Grunwald testifies while being questioned by her defense attorney Dean Zabriskie during her trial in Provo, Utah. AP

With Grunwald behind the wheel, the couple drove away. Prosecutors said that when another deputy caught up with them, she hit the brakes to close the distance between their vehicles so Garcia-Jauregui had a better shot when he fired again. Deputy Greg Sherwood was hit in the head and survived.

But Grunwald's lawyer said she was a scared girl who had trusted an older, manipulative man. Attorney Dean Zabriskie said as the couple fled from police through three central Utah counties, Grunwald was driving with a gun to her head.

Zabriskie has said Grunwald plans to appeal her conviction.

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