Charges against Orem man accused of running over 2 boys in horse corral upgraded to murder

Mar 16, 2023, 10:46 AM | Updated: 12:42 pm
A car is upside down in a corral....
Two Eagle Mountain children playing in a corral were killed when police say they were hit by a speeding car in May 2022. On Thursday, a judge ruled evidence from a blood test given to the driver after the crash can be used in his manslaughter trial. (Utah County Sheriff's Office)
(Utah County Sheriff's Office)

EAGLE MOUNTAIN, Utah — An Orem man accused of crashing into a horse corral in Eagle Mountain, running over and killing two young boys who were playing inside, is now facing upgraded charges of murder.

The amended charges were filed against Kent Cody Barlow, 25, on Wednesday. He is now charged in 4th District Court with two counts of murder, a first-degree felony; and drug possession, a class A misdemeanor.

Former Utah County Attorney David Leavitt charged Barlow with two counts of manslaughter, a second-degree felony. He said at the time that he only filed two criminal charges so there would be no room for a plea bargain.

“We are changing the culture of criminal justice in Utah County,” he said. “We don’t intend to plea bargain any case like this.”

On Wednesday, Utah County Attorney Jeff Gray, who defeated Leavitt in last year’s election, filed the amended charges.

In the new court filing, prosecutors cite the section in Utah law that states a person may be charged with murder if that person “acting under circumstances evidencing a depraved indifference to human life, knowingly engaged in conduct which created a grave risk of death to another and thereby caused the death of another.”

A charge of manslaughter is filed when prosecutors believe someone causes the death of another by acting recklessly.

Deputy Utah County Attorney Tim Taylor, the spokesman for the office, said the key to the upgraded charges is the “depraved indifference to human life.” After Gray took office, he said the new Utah County Attorney took a look at the Barlow case with a fresh set of eyes. From Gray’s perspective, Barlow knowingly engaged in conduct that showed a depraved indifference to life, Taylor said.

“You know people use that road, that there are homes out there. You’re acting with that depraved indifference to human life knowing that speeding cars can kill people, but you’re engaged in that conduct anyway,” he said.

On May 2, Odin Jeffrey Ratliff and Hunter Charlie Jackson, both 3 years old, were playing with toy trucks in a corral at the Cedar Valley Stables when Barlow, who had been “drifting” his vehicle and going 80 mph to 100 mph near 2300 North and 16000 West in Eagle Mountain, hit a bump and lost control of his car, according to charging documents.

Barlow’s vehicle crashed through several fences, two horse stables and two corrals, causing a path of destruction of at least 345 feet, according to the Utah County Sheriff’s Office. Both boys were run over and ended up 75 feet from where they were playing. Both of them died instantly.

Blood drawn from Barlow’s body was analyzed and “showed the presence of methamphetamine and amphetamines at a very high level,” charging documents state.

Barlow was notified of the amended charges at a court hearing Thursday morning.

Because new charges were filed, Barlow has a right to request a new preliminary hearing even though a judge has already bound him over to stand trial on the manslaughter charges. Taylor said a whole new hearing could be held, or the judge could request arguments be submitted in writing since an in-person hearing has already been held. Barlow also has the right to file an objection to his amended charges. Taylor said what happens next in the case will likely depend on how the defense responds to the amended charges.

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Charges against Orem man accused of running over 2 boys in horse corral upgraded to murder