DOJ files federal charges against convicted killer of UTA worker

Dereck James Harrison
Dereck James Harrison is pictured in a Utah courtroom after an appearance for kidnapping charges. Photo Courtesy: Pool

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, June 5, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — The Department of Justice has filed federal kidnapping and carjacking charges against Dereck James “D.J.” Harrison, who has confessed to the May 2016 murder of Utah Transit Authority employee Kay Porter Ricks.

If convicted of the new federal charges, Harrison would face life in prison — the same penalty already handed down for his conviction in a Wyoming state court for the same crimes.

The federal charges were filed Friday, according to a news release from the office of John W. Huber, United States Attorney for the District of Utah.

• Count 1 of the indictment alleges that “Harrison took by force, violence and intimidation, and with intent to cause death or serious bodily harm, a 2013 Ford F150 pickup from a person identified as K.P.R. in the information. The information further alleges that the May 12, 2016 carjacking resulted in the death of K.P.R.”

• Count 2 charges Harrison with the “kidnapping of K.P.R. The indictment alleges Harrison took the victim from Utah to Wyoming and, according to the information, the kidnapping resulted in the death of K.P.R.”

On April 17 of this year, Harrison accepted a plea deal in the case brought against him by the state of Wyoming, and pleaded guilty to one count of first degree murder and one count of kidnapping. The deal called for additional charges to be dropped, and Harrison to be sentenced with life in prison rather than execution.

The kidnapping took place in Salt Lake County, although Ricks was killed in Wyoming.

“In consultation with the Salt Lake District Attorney’s Office, a decision was made to represent Salt Lake County and the District of Utah’s interests by proceeding with a federal prosecution of Harrison,” said a letter released Monday by Huber’s office. “The FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service have been actively involved in the investigation of this case since the alleged crime occurred.”

Flint Harrison. Photo: Sublette County Sheriff’s Office

In a Wyoming court, Harrison blamed his father, Flint Harrison, for the actual murder, saying the duo’s original plan had been to release Ricks, a 63-year-old father and grandfather. Ricks was taken from UTA’s Ballpark Station, north of downtown Salt Lake City, because the Harrisons wanted his UTA utility truck.

It was 51-year-old Flint Harrison who later slit Ricks’ throat then beat him with a metal pipe for nearly 20 minutes, the younger Harrison claimed to prosecutors. Ricks’ body was found on May 17, 2016, near Kemmerer, Wyo.

Kay Ricks. Photo courtesy: UTA Police

Flint Harrison committed suicide on July 25 of last year while awaiting trial in the Davis County Jail on charges related to an earlier crime, the May 10, 2016 kidnapping and attack in Centerville on a mother and her four daughters, whom the Harrisons had invited to a barbecue as a ruse.

The mother and daughters escaped and alerted police. The Harrisons were fleeing the area after that crime when they came upon Ricks and his UTA utility truck.

D.J. Harrison also took a plea deal in the Centerville case, pleading guilty to five counts of aggravated kidnapping in exchange for prosecutors dropping 11 other charges related to the assault, and to weapons and drugs charges, and to taking the death penalty off the table.




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