Men arrested in fatal shooting of 7-year-old Utah girl could face more charges

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Christopher OConnell mugshot.jpg
Trever Pinter mugshot.jpg
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Posted at 6:17 PM, Jul 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-12 00:56:39-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Three men were booked into the Wasatch County Jail in connection with the shooting death of 7-year-old Zaydanielys Rodriguez Irizarry in Heber City late Friday night.

Currently, all three men face separate charges ranging from obstruction of justice to felony manslaughter for the alleged roles they played in the death of Irizarry, whose father said was killed by a stray bullet.

Christopher Robert O'Connell, 34, was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter, intoxication, and possession of a weapon by a restricted person — among other charges. Colin David Howells, 36, and Trever Joe Pinter, 21, were charged with crimes unrelated to Irizarry's death.

Criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor Greg Skordas said they could face harsher charges come Monday.

"When a crime occurs over a weekend, as happened here, on a Friday night when courts are closed, the county attorney's office is closed, the police when they book someone in jail have to articulate why they're booking that person in jail," Skordas said. "And that's called a probable cause statement."

A probable cause statement — or probable cause affidavit — includes information initially gathered by police from both suspects and witnesses. It also includes a brief explanation of what the officer believes to be the proper charges for the crimes committed.

"But it's certainly not the [final] charges," Skordas added. "It's not what these men are all going to face. It's not what the county attorney is going to charge."

The probable cause affidavit allows law enforcement officers to obtain a warrant from a judge for the arrest of a suspect, or group of suspects. Next, the case will be in the hands of the Wasatch County Attorney's office.

"The county attorney's office is going to go through the evidence pretty closely here and decide what homicide charges most appropriately fit the conduct," Skordas said.

At this time, O'Connell faces a manslaughter charge, which is considered a reckless homicide in the state of Utah.

"But the county attorney can up the charges," Skordas added. "The county attorney can charge it as a murder saying, well it showed a depraved indifference to human life."

Before more charges come, Skordas said a thorough examination of the evidence and more interviews with witnesses will be conducted.

"They'll go through the forensics, they'll go through the bullet patterns, try to figure out, first of all, who fired the gun, how it was fired, through what wall, through what area, and how it ultimately caused the death of this poor little child," he added.

Skordas said a prosecutor on this case typically has two-to-three days to file new charges.