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Deseret Morning News
By Jesse Hyde
Thursday, Sept. 23 2004
PROVO — Lawyers say an American Fork man charged with killing his boss in February may have done so because he was taking the prescription drug Paxil. That’s the argument defense lawyers for Darrell Kinyon, 49, plan to use if the capital murder case goes to trial, Kinyon’s attorney, Rhome Zabriskie, said after a hearing Wednesday in 4th District Court. Judge Lynn Davis granted a prosecution request to continue the hearing until Dec. 22, when Kinyon will either enter a plea or Davis will set a date for a preliminary hearing.
Prosecutors asked for the delay because they are waiting on evidence sent to the state crime lab for testing. Utah County Deputy Prosecutor Mariane O’Bryant would not elaborate on what that evidence is. “We’re working on it. It takes a long time to go through a capital case,” she said. Kinyon is accused of killing his boss, Kent Griffith, after being suspended from his job at the Provo River Water Users Association. The suspension was over material found on Kinyon’s computer, Orem police say. Kinyon went on Feb. 2 to talk to Griffith, 36, about the suspension. During the meeting, Kinyon flew into a rage, damaged a candy machine and left the building, according to police. While police were searching the neighborhood to find him, Kinyon allegedly returned to the Pleasant Grove office, chased co-workers out of the office and shot Griffith. He then went into a restroom and shot himself in the head.
Zabriskie agreed to Wednesday’s continuance because his team wants more time to explore the possibility that Paxil and other drugs Kinyon was taking for anxiety and depression affected his mental state. “There is a lot of literature out there to support the claim that Paxil can cause people to act out violently,” Zabriskie said. Zabriskie said he plans to call Ann Tracy, executive director of the International Coalition for Drug Awareness, before Kinyon’s next court date and may eventually use her as a witness. Tracy, who runs the advocacy group from her home office in West Jordan, has testified at a dozen criminal cases that antidepressants may cause or contribute to violence, an assertion supported by some mental health experts but disputed by others. One such case Tracy testified in, that of a Wyoming woman on Paxil who shot her husband but didn’t remember anything about the slaying except standing there with a gun, reportedly is in some ways similar to Kinyon’s case.
Defense attorneys originally said Kinyon could remember little of the alleged crime because of amnesia that resulted from his self-inflicted gunshot wound. Zabriskie now says Kinyon’s memory lapse may have something to do with his use of Paxil. “We’re looking at the potentially adverse effects of Paxil,” Zabriskie said. “This is a defense that has been used by attorneys across the country.” Paxil is the subject of a nationwide class-action lawsuit filed this summer charging that the drug’s maker, GlaxoSmithKline, “concealed, suppressed and downplayed” severe withdrawal reactions in people trying to get off the drug. And in March, the Food and Drug Administration issued a Public Health Advisory urging doctors and families to closely monitor adults and children on antidepressants for suicidal thinking, hostility and mania, especially at the beginning of treatment or when doses are changed. Griffith’s father, Kent, who attended Wednesday’s hearing, would not comment on Kinyon’s mental state at the time of the crime, but he said he is satisfied with the way the prosecution is handling the case. “We don’t have a problem with the delay,” he said. “We’d rather they delay it and get it right than be here again in three years.” In addition to capital murder, Kinyon faces charges of sexual exploitation of a minor and aggravated assault, both third-degree felonies, in connection with the case. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
A week ago, Kinyon, 50, pleaded guilty in a deal with prosecutors to the Feb. 2, 2004, shooting of his supervisor Kent Neil Griffith, 46, in a fit of rage at their workplace in Pleasant Grove.
Kinyon not only took Griffith’s life, but also deprived the man’s young wife and four children of a husband and father. In committing the violent act, the 50-year-old Pleasant Grove man also brought untold misery upon his own wife, children and grandchildren, Judge Lynn Davis said.
M’lissa Griffith, Kent’s widow, reached out in a conciliatory and loving way to Kinyon’s family and even Kinyon himself — even though she said there was no way to express the pain and anguish her family had been through,
“I want Darrell and his family to know I’m not bitter toward them,” she said, holding back tears.
Griffith told Judge Davis that her husband was a kind and gentle man who had great concern for Kinyon. She said Kent struggled greatly on how to help Kinyon after pornography was discovered on Kinyon’s work computer, leading to his suspension.
After the sentencing, Griffith said she greatly appreciated Kinyon’s apology to her and her family, and reached out to his family in support.
“It was tender to me to see his emotion and pain,” she said. “I wanted to give him a hug; it meant a lot to me.”
Dennis Griffith, the victim’s father, thanked Kinyon for agreeing to the plea deal, thus sparing his family the pain of a protracted trial and appeals process. He said the biggest question his family had was what would drive someone to such an extreme to take another person’s life.
“Me, my wife and my family forgive him,” he said. “We’ve come to peace with that. … Our tears and prayers go to his family for the pain they’ve been put in.”
Still, Dennis Griffith told Judge Davis he believed that Kinyon, if released from prison, might kill again.
Lisa Hatch, M’lissa’s older sister, said when she rushed to her sister’s aid Feb. 2, 2004, after hearing the news, she found her at the end of her bed. She said her younger sister had dialed Kent’s cell phone number, “just to hear his voice.”
“In all my life I’ve never seen anything as painful as Missy with her kids as I drove up to their home,” later that day Hatch said. “They fell into our arms and were inconsolable.”
To explain what kind of person her sister is, Hatch said M’lissa specifically asked all family members on the day of her husband’s murder not to mention that pornography was found on Kinyon’s computer.
“She was more concerned about Darrell’s family than she was her own family,” Hatch said.
Brittany Griffith, who is 12 and Kent Griffith’s oldest daughter, also testified to the judge, but her sobbing voice was barely audible. The judge, emotionally moved by the girl’s words, did not interfere.
“I don’t want Darrell to die or anything because it would just hurt everyone worse,” he read.
Judge Davis said young Taylor has learned a lesson of forgiveness “that some take a lifetime to learn.”
One of Kinyon’s defense attorneys, Fred Metos, commented that in his 30 years of practicing law, he had never seen the victim’s family members extend a hand of forgiveness as the Griffiths had to his client.
“Their ability to forgive in this case is extremely rare, and something they really ought to be commended for,” he said. “If nothing else, it will help speed the healing of both the Griffiths and the Kinyons.”
“This is a terrible and tragic event, a crime against humanity,” he said, after considering both the mitigating and aggravating circumstances of the case prior to his sentencing. “For both families, it’s left a trail of tears and broken dreams.”
A lesion on Kinyon’s brain and his doctor-prescribed use of antidepressant drugs that may have altered the man’s behavior in the crime were some of the mitigating factors considered in sentencing, the judge said.
Several of Kinyon’s family members also made statements to the court, including his daughter Tera Lynn, Darrell’s mother Ellen, an aunt and a sister-in-law. They thanked the Griffiths for their understanding and forgiveness, and expressed love for Kinyon.
Ellen Kinyon said her son worked hard to earn his Eagle Scout badge, the LDS Church’s Duty to God award, and served as a dedicated Scoutmaster and youth athletic coach.
“I have a good son,” she said. “We as a family will never give up on him.”
She asked Kent Griffith’s children not to have hatred toward her son, but to look forward to a future of peace and happiness.
Dennis Griffith and M’lissa Griffith stressed the role pornography had played in this tragedy affecting two families. They both believe Kinyon’s addiction to pornography, and his employer’s discovery of images on his work computer, led to his murderous rampage.
“I wish people would learn how dangerous pornography is,” M’lissa Griffith said.
Michael Rigert can be reached at 344-2548 or email@example.com.