Charges filed in “depraved” killings of Utah County teens

Apr 3, 2018, 6:30 PM
FILE: Jerrod Baum's defense attorney told a judge his client deserved a retrial based on comments made to the defense by a juror, after Baum was found guilty, something prohibited by Utah law. (KSL TV) (File photo: KSL TV)

UTAH COUNTY – The man accused of killing two Eureka teens before dumping their bodies in an abandoned mine will be eligible for the death penalty.

Jerrod Baum is officially charged with two counts of aggravated murder, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, two counts of abuse or desecration of a body, one count of possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person and one count of obstruction of justice.

The charging documents describe just how gruesome the attacks were.  Court records say Baum bound Riley Powell and Breezy Otteson, drove them to Tintic Standard Mine Number 2 in Eureka, then forced Otteson to watch as Powell was beaten and stabbed multiple times.  Powell was even reportedly stabbed in the groin.  Then, Baum reportedly cut Otteson’s throat.

(Photo Credit: Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

The two charges of aggravated murder make the death penalty a possibility, and prosecutors have 60 days to make their decision.

“I think, as a prosecutor, the primary thing you look at is the strength of evidence in the case.  The case is still developing.  The investigation is still ongoing.  You obviously look at the heinousness of the crime,” according to Utah County Deputy Attorney Chad Grunander.

Grunander says they’ll also speak with the victims’ families for their input on the death penalty.

“They understand where we’re coming from.  They understand the investigation is ongoing.  They’re grieving.  This is a very difficult time for them,” he says.

Those family members were court as Baum made his initial court appearance, where he was informed about the charges against him.  He was mostly quiet and confirmed to the judge that he understood what was happening.  Baum was also appointed a public defender who asked for more time to gather evidence for the defense.  The next hearing is scheduled for April 26.

(Photo Credit: Utah County Sheriff’s Office)

Both Powell’s father, Bill, and Otteson’s aunt, Amanda Hunt, say they’re fully supportive of prosecutors seeking the death penalty.

Hunt says, “We want justice for these kids and if the death penalty is what that is, then, we’re going to stand for it.”

Members of both families hugged and cried after seeing Baum for the first time.  Today was especially emotional for them since the teens were cremated after loved ones had a chance to say their final goodbyes.  Powell’s sister, Nikka, says it was very hard saying farewell to her brother’s body.

“Me and my brother, we were so close. I was so close to Breezy.  We did everything together.  It’s just hard to actually realize that they’re gone now.  Really gone,” Nikka says.

She, like the rest of the family, is still struggling to understand why Baum reportedly killed her brother and her friend.

“Honestly, my brother didn’t deserve this, and neither did she.  They had a whole life. We had a whole life to live,” she says.

(Photo Credit: Tooele County Sheriff’s Office)

Baum’s girlfriend, Morgan Henderson, had already been charged with obstruction of justice, in this case.  However, prosecutors are still deciding if she’ll be charged with being an accomplice in the murders.

“[Being an] accomplice requires proactive participation in the crime, but, also, that individual must have the same mental state as the primary actor,” Grunander says.

Grunander says Baum also threatened Henderson. They believe she was also present at the time of the murders.

Today’s Top Stories


Team USA gymnasts cheer from stands, four utah kids competed in international gymnastics competitio...
Britt Johnson

Utah well-represented during international gymnastics competition

A gymnastics competition last week saw four kids from Utah competing against international gymnasts. One parent says preparation went beyond training.
13 hours ago
The American Red Cross of Utah urges Utahns to consider their organization on Giving Tuesday....
Simone Seikaly

American Red Cross urges gift of time for ‘Giving Tuesday’

Giving Tuesday emphasizes a day for charitable actions after several days (Black Friday, etc.) focused on spending and buying.
13 hours ago
A pilot walked away uninjured after crashing a small plane near Durst Mountain in Mountain Green on...
Amie Schaeffer, Kate Davis

Pilot uninjured in Mountain Green plane crash

A pilot walked away uninjured after crashing a small plane near Durst Mountain in Mountain Green on Nov. 27, 2022.
13 hours ago
Authorities in Washington County are investigating the discovery of the body of a 36-year-old man e...
Devin Oldroyd

SB I-15 lanes in Washington Co. reopen after closure

Utah Highway Patrol reports the partial closure of a portion of southbound I-15 in Washington County. This comes after a trailer rolled Sunday evening.
2 days ago
winter storm...
Devin Oldroyd

UDOT warns winter storm bringing roadway impacts

The Utah Department of Transportation is warning drivers that an upcoming winter storm will impact the road from 6 am Monday to noon Tuesday.
2 days ago
I-15 crash in Murray...
Devin Oldroyd

One person flees I-15 crash in Murray

One person fled from an I-15 crash in Murray Sunday afternoon. According to Utah Highway Patrol, the suspect has been apprehended.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
Charges filed in “depraved” killings of Utah County teens