Capital murder charges were filed Thursday against Calvin Shane Myers for the death of his pregnant girlfriend and her unborn child.
The charge involving the fetus of Irene Francis Christensen, 20, will be the first test of a 1991 amendment to Utah's criminal homicide statute that now covers unborn children.Myers, 21, could face the death penalty if found guilty on either or both charges. He is being held without bail in the Summit County Jail awaiting a 9:30 a.m. arraignment in Coalville Tuesday.
Summit County Attorney Robert W. Adkins said he had the input of the state attorney general's office before filing the charges because of the new unborn child provision in the homicide statute.
"It's something they need to be involved in" because of the newness of the statute and the likelihood of an appeal. "When we consulted with them, they indicated that it (the unborn child provision) never went up on appeal before" and the office was unaware a similar charge had been filed anywhere in the state since the Legislature changed the law.
A snowmobile driver found Christensen's body Sunday afternoon near Rockport Reservoir. A state autopsy performed Monday showed she had been stabbed numerous times and her throat had been slashed, according to the probable cause statement filed in 3rd Circuit Court.
"The state medical examiner determined that Irene Christensen was pregnant at the time of her death and a baby boy fetus was removed from the body of Irene Christensen during the autopsy," the information reads. Christensen was four months pregnant when she was killed.
During the investigation at the crime scene on Sunday and Monday, Summit County deputy sheriffs located a driver's license near the victim belonging to Steven Paul Howard, who later told investigators he had lost his drivers license and did not know how or why it turned up near the reservoir.
Then on Wednesday, during subsequent questioning, Howard told investigators he had been at Rockport State Park Dec. 2 and saw Myers stab Christensen, according to the court documents.
"Mr. Howard indicated that he observed the defendant stab Irene Christensen twice at which time Mr. Howard panicked and ran back to the vehicle."
Myers was arrested the same day. "The defendant admitted he knew Irene Christensen was pregnant at the time of her death and that he was upset because she was pregnant," the probable cause statement says.
Howard has been charged with obstructing justice, a second-degree felony.