KEMMERER, Wyo. (ABC4 Utah) – Dereck Harrison said his father killed UTA worker Kay Ricks.
That fact came out during a confession before a Wyoming judge.
“Guilty,” Harrison told the judge on two felony counts of murder and kidnapping.
Two counts were dropped in exchange for the guilty plea.
The plea bargain spares Harrison from facing the death penalty should he have been found guilty had he gone to trial. But as part of the plea bargain, Harrison likely will spend the rest of his life with no chance at parole in a Wyoming prison
Dereck and his father, Flint, kidnapped Ricks in Salt Lake City after the father and son were on the run. Both were sought in a kidnapping and assault of a mother and her four daughters in Centerville.
Dereck Harrison along with his father were captured in Wyoming and returned to Utah to face those charges. But Flint committed suicide by hanging himself in a Davis County jail cell. Dereck pleaded guilty and was sentenced to the Utah prison. But last month he was transferred to the Lincoln County jail to face murder charges.
Monday afternoon, Harrison walked into the courtroom. He winked at his grandmother and sat with his attorney.
“I saw him with his Mohawk haircut and I realized we were not dealing with a contrite second hand player in this horrible, horrible event,” said Richard Massey. “He is a brutal, reckless murderer.”
Massey has been the spokesman for the Ricks family and was present in the court room when Harrison walked in.
“He took the life of a good loving, husband, father and grandfather,” Massey said.
Harrison outlined the history of their crime beginning with kidnapping Ricks in Salt Lake City and then driving to southwest Wyoming. He said the plan was to leave him there. But when he went to the truck to get Ricks a jacket things changed dramatically.
“My father was cutting his throat,” Harrison told the judge.
He said he became upset with his father and began scuffling. That’s when he noticed Ricks was running away.
“I grabbed and stopped him,” he said in the court room.
He said his father grabbed an iron bar from Ricks’ UTA track.
“And hit him in the head a couple of times,” Harrison said. “I didn’t him him. But I didn’t try stopping him.”
He said Ricks was in plain sight so they pulled him into some bushes.
“I freaked out and we to the truck,” Harrison said.
He said they went to Kemmerer to eat and then proceeded to Pinedale where Flint had a home. But they parked a distance from his home and sneaked into his home. There, they grabbed gear, including a handgun and two rifles plus ammunition.
“It was more for survival, for meat,” Harrison said about the guns.
He said they ditched the UTA truck and began hiking. He said his father had a plan to return to southern Utah.
“I went to sleep and then a chopper was over me,” he said.
By then his father, Flint had turned himself in to authorities but Dereck was unaware of that.
“I dodged them and realized I wasn’t going to getaway and ditched the guns and walked down the road and they found me,” he said.
The Lincoln County attorney believed Flint murdered Ricks and Dereck was the accomplice.
“Was he (Dereck) the main actor?” Spencer Allred asked. “No. We believe the main actor was his father Flint.”
Massey calls it a “gift” that the family won’t have to go through a trial and he said Ricks family is grateful for that.
“He is my friend and to hear again and again the brutality of how his life was taken, I’ve said before it’s just shocking to the conscience,” Massey said.
Harrison will be sentenced May 17. Allred said the judge ordered a pre-sentence report and will then evaluate whether to sign off on the plea bargain.