SALT LAKE CITY — Saying that it would be hard to seat an impartial jury from such a small community, a judge on Monday moved the trial of a former Kanosh assistant fire chief accused of rape out of Millard County.
But on Monday, both cases were transferred to 4th District Court in Utah County based on a motion filed by the state. The Juab County Sheriff’s Office is prosecuting the case.
“In a small county, there is always a concern, generally by a defendant, that finding jurors who are unacquainted with the matter and who, more importantly, can be fair and impartial will be difficult,” Judge Anthony Howell wrote in his decision,
While finding an impartial jury in Millard and Juab Counties is a challenge in nearly every case, Howell wrote that Corry’s case is especially challenging due to several factors.
For one, Corry is well known in the community, according to the court order.
“Additionally, Mr. Corry comes from a well-known family here in Millard County,” the order notes.
Corry’s father, Scott Corry, 62, of Kanosh, was the fire chief in Kanosh and was with the Millard County Sheriff’s Office for about 35 years before retiring in October. He retired with the rank of sergeant.
The elder Corry was charged in July by the Utah Attorney General’s Office with obstructing justice, a second-degree felony, and official misconduct, a class B misdemeanor, for not reporting his son’s alleged crimes. He pleaded guilty in October to the misdemeanor charge, according to court documents, while taking a plea in abeyance for the felony. A six-month jail sentence was suspended.
Another reason for the change of venue is the size of Millard County, the judge noted.
... identifying jurors who could be impartial and who could make a decision based only on the evidence presented in court would be very difficult.
“The communities here in Millard County are quite small. The court notes that the population is about 15,000 people in the county. Although that is a number where, if each individual county resident were talked to, the parties could certainly find enough people who had not heard about the case and who had not formed an opinion about the case. However, that is a small enough number that identifying jurors who could be impartial and who could make a decision based only on the evidence presented in court would be very difficult.”
Third, the seriousness of the charges and the possibility of being sentenced to up to life in prison if convicted is another reason the judge ordered the trial moved.
Finally, Howell noted that media coverage, particularly by the local newspaper, has created prejudicial publicity.
“There is a very active and robust fourth estate in Millard County and they have, as would be expected by reporters seeking to provide information, reported on this case throughout its pendency. Based on the three years this judge has sat in Millard County and his interactions with and knowledge of the community, the court is of the opinion that nearly all of the residents of Millard County are familiar with at least some portion of the facts of either of these cases,” Howell wrote.
Additionally, Howell noted that information that was discussed during a closed hearing that was “ultimately ruled to be excluded in a trial was reported to the public through the press. That fact alone gives the court no confidence that the parties would be able to find jurors in Millard County who would be able to set that information aside as they are asked to render a verdict.”
Austin Corry is accused of raping two women at the Kanosh Fire Station. One of the victims was a firefighter under Corry’s command at the time. She has also filed a federal $1.2 million lawsuit against both Corry and his father, as well as Kanosh and Millard County.
Corry has been bound over to stand trial in both cases and has pleaded not guilty to each.