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

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A 17-year-old girl riding her bike in Tremonton was killed when she was hit by a garbage truck Tuesday morning.

Salt Lake Police investigate a scene in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. An Orem man accused of causing a crash that killed two 3-year-old boys who were playing in a horse corral in Eagle Mountain last year now faces two upgraded charges of murder. He had been charged with two counts of manslaughter.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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.

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.