Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
Sam Penrod ReportingA guilty plea today by a former Utah Highway Patrol Trooper who struck and killed an eleven-year old boy who was riding his bike. The trooper was responding to an emergency call, but was on several medications that prosecutors say impaired his ability to drive.
Courtland Childs worked as a Highway Patrol trooper in Price for several years and today in court pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of negligent homicide. The guilty plea ends a five year ordeal for the boy's family, as they've waited for an apology.
Pam Kouris came to court today hoping for closure, five years after losing her eleven-year old son. Michael Kouris was riding his bicycle across the street in Price on July 19th, 1998, and was hit near a crosswalk by a speeding car.The driver, was a Utah Highway patrol trooper responding to an emergency call.
But for the boy's family, sadness turned to anger when they learned the trooper had a long history of on-duty accidents and was on numerous pain medications the day Michael was killed.
Sherry Ragan, Prosecutor: “He has some legitimate medical problems, but from our point of view there was some question to whether he was abusing those. He was on eight or nine things that day that he was tested for and also admitted was in his system.”
Even today, Courtland Childs no longer with the Highway Patrol, denied being impaired by prescription drugs on the day of the accident. He pleaded guilty to keep the case from trial where prosecutors were pursuing felony automobile homicide charges.
Brad Rich, Defense Attorney: "We could have shown at trial that he was not impaired. He was taking a lot of medications because he was in a lot of pain, but I believe his performance was exemplary as a highway patrolman.”
Numerous toxicology experts have varying conclusions if Childs was impaired by the drugs.
Sherry Ragan, Prosecutor: “You can look at the circumstances and guess that he was impaired. It's hard to know, he's probably the only one who knows if he was impaired that day.”
But for the Kouris family waiting five years for an apology and admittance of some guilt brings a wide range of emotions, still leaving them with the pain of losing a brother and son.
Pam Kouris, Victim's Mother: “I don't know if it angers me or upsets me or I should jump for joy. I don't know. I'm happy that it's over, but he could have done this five years ago.”
As part of the plea deal, Childs will not spend any time in jail.