A couple indicted on involuntary manslaughter charges is set to face trial early next year.
Jonathan Echtinaw, 25, and Carissa Kendall, 23, were indicted by a grand jury for their role in the May 6 shooting death of 18-year-old Ethan Edgar.
Both are currently scheduled to go to trial on Jan. 7 — continued from an earlier scheduled date in December — according to Iowa court records.
An investigation found that the owner of a stolen black 2009 Nissan 370Z allegedly stolen by Edgar, along with several friends, in multiple cars, were in Council Bluffs actively searching for the car, as they had information that it had been seen at different locations in Council Bluffs throughout the day. The Nissan had been reported stolen to the Omaha Police Department.
Edgar was behind the wheel of the stolen Nissan, parked on the gas station lot at South Main Street and Ninth Avenue, when it was located by some of the owner’s friends, who were in two separate cars, police said. One of these cars, a blue Honda Civic, pulled directly in front of the Nissan, blocking its forward path, as the second car, a silver Toyota Camry pulled in directly behind the Nissan, blocking it from backing out of the area.
Edgar, the lone occupant of the Nissan, put the car in reverse and accelerated, slamming the rear‐end of the Nissan into the front passenger side door of the Camry, police said. As Edgar then began to drive forward, Echtinaw fired multiple shots at the Nissan through his open car door window. The three cars proceeded to ram into each other several times, with the male in the Camry firing additional rounds at the Nissan. A total of 12 9mm shell casings were recovered at the scene.
Edgar was able to drive the Nissan off the gas station lot, heading north on South Main Street, with the Honda Civic and Toyota Camry chasing after it. Edgar lost control of the Nissan at the intersection of South Main Street and Fifth Avenue, crashing into a tree. Paramedics transported Edgar to the Nebraska Medical Center, where he died from his injuries. He had been struck by gunfire twice, once in the upper right back and another time on the right thigh, according to police.
Pottawattamie County Attorney Matt Wilber said he rarely convenes grand juries, but in this case decided to.
“If I’m struggling with what should we do, a grand jury is good to use. The conscience of the community,” he said, noting in the vast majority of cases his office decides whether to charge a suspect.
Wilber noted shootings where the defendant claims self defense have led to the last two grand juries he’s convened including the Edgar case. A grand jury cleared a Council Bluffs man in June in connection with shooting death in December of 2018 in the 500 block of Grace Street.
“Those are the ones where you see the struggle for us. Vast majority, we make a charging decision — charges or no charges,” Wilber said.