ALL NEWS

Utah Co. Attorney to seek death penalty in case of murdered teens

Jul 31, 2019, 10:39 AM | Updated: 12:57 pm
death penalty case...
(Breezy Otteson and Riley Powell. Photo Credit: Tooele County Sheriff's Office)
(Breezy Otteson and Riley Powell. Photo Credit: Tooele County Sheriff's Office)

Utah County Attorney David Leavitt says that his office will seek the death penalty against the man who was charged with killing two Utah teens and dumping their bodies in an abandoned mine shaft.

“We are giving this defendant one offer, the offer of a fair trial,” Leavitt said.

Jerrod Baum pleaded not guilty last month in the murders of 17-year-old Brelynne “Breezy” Otteson and 18-year-old Riley Powell who went missing on December 30th, 2017. Both of their parents had called for the death penalty earlier this year.

The families of the victims hugged and smiled after the announcement was made.  Otteson’s aunt, Amanda Hunt, says this was the announcement they were hoping to hear.

Hunt says, “That’s the one thing we were sure of.  These kids didn’t get to choose their life.  They didn’t get a fight.  So, why should he have an option to live?”  She adds,“We want justice for these kids and if the death penalty is what that is, then, we’re going to stand for it.”

Hunt calls Jerrod Baum a sociopath who is a clear danger to society.

“Aggravating factors… it only takes one to move forward with the death penalty and there were at least five,” she says.

The teens were discovered in the abandoned Tintic Standard Mine Number 2 in Eureka three months after their disappearance.

Both Hunt and Utah County Attorney David Leavitt know nothing can bring Powell and Otteson back, but, Leavitt believes Baum is the kind of person that society needs to be protected from.

“If pulling a trigger or injecting a needle would bring Breezy or Riley back, I would do so, personally,” Leavitt says.

However, there are a lot of obstacles attorneys have to clear before the death sentence is carried out.  Leavitt estimates the court process would cost the county roughly a million dollars.  Plus, the last person to receive the death penalty in Utah County is Ron Lafferty, who is still alive despite being sentenced in 1984.  Still, Leavitt believes Baum is worth the time and money after what he reportedly did to his victims.

Leavitt says, “As for no reason, whatsoever, they were brutally tortured and murdered and thrown like mere trash down a mine shaft where their bodies laid 250 feet below the surface.”

Leavitt insists he’s not authorizing the death penalty just so he could convince Baum to plead guilty.  However, he would not specify whether or not he would accept a plea change if it was offered to take the death sentence off the table.

Baum’s former girlfriend, Morgan Lewis, shared the information that led police to the teen’s location during her testimony in a Provo courtroom after she was arrested in an unrelated case.

Charging documents say she told the court that Baum had become angry that the teens were visiting her. This led him to tie the teens up in the back of his truck before driving them out to Eureka and stabbing them.

Baum had a criminal history in Utah County before these events that stretch back to his teenage years.  In 1992, Baum was tried as an adult for attempted murder after he allegedly stole several vehicles, robbed a Burger King in Orem and fired a gun at the employees who followed him into the parking lot.

Baum’s next court appearance is a pretrial conference scheduled for August 12.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

USU Eastern Student Wins Bronze Medal in Welding Competition...
Aubri Wuthrich

USU Eastern student takes 3rd in global welding competition

The USU Eastern welding student scored seven points behind the gold medal winner and took the Best of Nation Award.
10 hours ago
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family [with recipes!]

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
10 hours ago
File photo: Soldiers from the Utah National Guard prepare to depart Roland R. Wright Air National G...
Amie Schaeffer

Utah Air National Guard Airman dies during routine deployment

An airman from the Utah National Guard passed away from undisclosed medical issues while deployed in Guam on Nov. 29.
10 hours ago
After nine months of rehab in Kanab, Utah, a formerly injured Golden Eagle has been released back i...
Curt Gresseth

Golden eagle saved from death and rehabilitated in Utah flies home

An injured golden eagle spent months rehabilitating in Kanab, Utah after an injury. It was released home in November.
10 hours ago
The world's largest active volcano is shooting fountains of lava more than 100 feet high and sendin...
Holly Yan and Aya Elamroussi, CNN

Lava is spilling toward a key Hawaiian highway, but the governor says it’s safe to visit the Big Island

The world's largest active volcano is shooting fountains of lava more than 100 feet high and sending a river of molten rock down toward the main highway of Hawaii's Big Island.
10 hours ago
Gov. Cox mental health...
Mark Jackson

Utah’s Coordinated Action Plan for Water released this week

Utah’s Coordinated Action Plan for Water was released Wednesday by Gov. Spencer Cox and state agencies.
10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family [with recipes!]

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

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...
Macey's

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...
Sorenson

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.
Utah Co. Attorney to seek death penalty in case of murdered teens