Judge Denies Lovcom Request To Interview Casper Police Officers
A judge on Monday turned down a request by a Sheridan company to interview the former Casper police chief and a detective about what they know about the investigation of the disappearance of businesswoman Kristi Richardson in 2014, the apparent suicide of Mick McMurry in 2015, and any connection between the two.
Natrona County District Court Judge Thomas Sullins granted a request by the Casper Police Department and the Wyoming Division of Investigation to quash subpoenas by Lovcom, Inc., to depose former Chief Chris Walsh and Detective Shannon Daley.
Lovcom sued the city in June 2017, questioning whether it and the police department did all it could to investigate Richardson's disappearance and McMurry's death. By then the city turned over the cases to the DCI. Former Interim Chief Steve Schulz said as much in a deposition last fall.
Lovecom, owned by Kim Love and represented by attorney Bruce Moats, wanted to know whether Walsh and Daley had information that may indicate whether the social status of those affected by the disappearance and apparent suicide may have diverted attention away from possible persons of interest.
Moats argued information gleaned from those depositions is in the public interest and would not interfere with the investigation by the DCI, which received the cases in May and June 2017.
But Wyoming Senior Assistant Attorney General John Brodie responded that Walsh and Daley are third parties to the current investigation. "It's irrelevant."
Even so, they could disclose information that could harm the DCI's work, Brodie said. "It dangerously dips into the substance of the investigation."
In January, Sullins denied Lovcom's request to release documents about the investigation, but he did allow Love and Moats to privately review the 46-page log, or index, of the investigation, and Brodie said that should have been plenty.
Moats responded that Sullins decision will have a dramatic effect when Lovcom has a "show cause" hearing June 1 to ask the court why DCI should not release other information.
He also said information has surfaced that needs more research. For example, the McMurry residence had numerous security cameras. On the night of Mick McMurry's death, all of them were on except for the one showing the area where he died, Moats said.
Lovcom understands some information is privileged, and has no interest in interfering with the DCI's investigation of Richardson's disappearance three-and-a-half years ago, Moats said.
Brodie responded that the disappearance is that old, but the DCI has had the cases for only 11 months.
Sullins agreed with Brodie, saying Lovcom has asked the DCI for records under the Wyoming Public Records Act. The judge denied wholesale access but granted Lovcom the privilege of privately viewing the log of investigation.
Granting Lovcom's request to depose Walsh and Daley is improper, Sullins said. "If we allow full-blown discovery, we've completely torpedoed the provisions of the Wyoming Public records act."
Sullins also agreed with Brodie that allowing the depositions could pose a significant danger to the DCI's investigation.
Kim Love admitted in an interview with K2 Radio News that there was personal animosity between McMurray and him, and did not deny that it may be one factor in his interest in the case.