DJ Harrison makes his first appearance in court in UTA worker’s murder

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KEMMERER, Wyoming -- DJ Harrison spoke softly, answering a judge's questions as he appeared in court on murder and kidnapping charges.

Making his initial appearance in Lincoln County Circuit Court, Harrison, who is facing charges in last year's death of Utah Transit Authority worker Kay Ricks, waived his right to a preliminary hearing. However, prosecutors refused to say if that means a plea deal is in the works.

"I won't speak as far as what we have worked out in the future," Lincoln County Attorney Spencer Allred told reporters outside of court. "This is a simple matter, waiving his preliminary hearing."

Harrison is charged out of a crime spree that began last year when he and his father, Flint, were accused of holding five people captive inside a Centerville home. On the run from that, prosecutors allege they kidnapped Ricks, who had just begun his shift for UTA in his work truck.

DJ Harrison sits in court as criminal charges are read in Kemmerer, Wyoming. (Courtroom pool photo via Kemmerer Gazette)

In charging documents, Lincoln County prosecutors accuse them of driving Ricks' vehicle to Wyoming. His body was found last May under some brush outside Kemmerer. Prosecutors said Ricks' throat was slashed and he had been beaten to death.

After a manhunt, both men were ultimately arrested. Flint Harrison killed himself in jail. DJ Harrison struck a plea deal with Davis County prosecutors on charges related to the Centerville crime, then recently extradited here to Wyoming.

Harrison now faces two counts of first-degree murder, even though there is only one victim. Prosecutors have elected to charge murder with alternative counts: one accuses Harrison of pre-meditated murder, the other accuses him of killing in the commission of another crime.

Prosecutors have also charged him with kidnapping Ricks from Salt Lake City, as well as wrongful taking of property, Ricks' work truck.

Kay Ricks (family photo)

After waiving his preliminary hearing, the Judge Frank Zebre ordered DJ Harrison to appear before a district court judge in Kemmerer within a few weeks, where he will formally enter a plea to the charges.

Allred said they have not yet decided if the death penalty will be sought, should Harrison be convicted.

"We will have that discussion in the coming weeks prior to the arraignment," he said.