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Moms ask for case to move forward as man pleads not guilty to murdering Eagle Mountain boys


PROVO — Mothers of two toddlers killed in a crash in Eagle Mountain told a 4th District judge Wednesday how hard it is for them to continue coming to the courthouse as hearings get delayed.

Their statements came as Kent Cody Barlow, 27, pleaded not guilty to murdering their 3-year-old sons, Odin Jeffrey Ratliff and Hunter Charlie Jackson. He appeared virtually at the hearing from the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison, where he is being held on another case.

Odin and Hunter were playing in a horse corral on May 2, 2022, and were killed when a car police say was driven by Barlow left the road and veered into Cedar Valley Stables. Three others who were in the car with Barlow testified that he was driving at a high rate of speed and ran a stop sign before the car hit a bump that sent it off the road and out of control.

Barlow, of Orem, was ordered to stand trial for two counts of murder, a first-degree felony, and possession of a controlled substance, a class A misdemeanor, through a written order on May 20 of this year. He was initially charged with manslaughter and ordered to stand trial for that, but the charges were upgraded to murder by prosecutors, leading to a second preliminary hearing.

Theresa Ratliff said each time she enters the courtroom she is reminded about how she lost her 3-year-old son.

“I was the one who found the boys. The trauma that lives in me for my entire life will be finding those boys, and every day that I’m here reopens that trauma. I have not been able to grieve, your honor, not even a little bit,” she told the judge.

She said each time she comes to a hearing, she is sacrificing her career — noting that she is not paid to be there like the attorneys or expert witnesses. She asked for the victims’ time to be respected.

Ratliff said it is hard to continue coming to hearings when she doesn’t feel like it is moving forward, but she does it to fight for her son. She wants to testify about what she saw that day, she told the judge, but it’s getting harder.

Odin Jeffrey Ratliff and Hunter Charlie Jackson, both 3 years old, were playing a horse corral on May 2, 2022, and were killed when a car police say was driven by Kent Cody Barlow left the road and veered into Cedar Valley Stables.
Odin Jeffrey Ratliff and Hunter Charlie Jackson, both 3 years old, were playing a horse corral on May 2, 2022, and were killed when a car police say was driven by Kent Cody Barlow left the road and veered into Cedar Valley Stables. (Photo: Cedar Valley Stables)

Brooke Jackson, Hunter’s mother, said they don’t believe in the court system because of how often the case’s hearings have been rescheduled; she said it seems like it happens to 95% of the hearings. She said none of the victims have asked for work off during the scheduled September trial yet.

“We have no faith of it happening,” she said. “Hunter and Odin still deserve justice and we don’t feel like we’re getting it.”

She said it feels like Barlow and his attorney are filing motions just to delay the case.

Before hearing from the mothers, 4th District Judge Robert Lund said it is still his “hope and intention” to keep the trial in September. He told them he has said repeatedly the trial dates are firm, but some things are beyond his control.

Lund has not yet ruled whether the trial will be delayed, and he is continuing to receive motions relating to the question from attorneys, but he said he will make a decision as soon as he can.

Decision appealed

Barlow’s attorney, Ben Aldana, asked to put the criminal case on hold while he appeals the denial of his motion to remove Lund from the case to the Utah Court of Appeals.

In his motion to appeal the ruling, made by a separate 4th District judge, Aldana said Lund “made statements that the defense viewed as exhibiting bias, and displaying deep-seated antagonism towards both Mr. Barlow and the defense team.”

The motion also discussed Lund’s statements that he wanted to keep the trial in the case set for September, despite Aldana’s argument that he would not have enough time to prepare.

Barlow’s next hearing, on June 26, will address motions his attorney filed claiming that the way a pipe found at the crash scene was handled could have contaminated the DNA.

“The state essentially ripped the rug out from under the defense,” Aldana said of evidence about the pipe raised at the preliminary hearing.

He argued that the way the swabbing occurred would have destroyed any fingerprint evidence and could have brought in DNA from other items related to the case.



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