CRIME

Evidence uncovered in murder probe leads to child porn charges for suspect

Mar 7, 2022, 5:00 AM | Updated: 11:05 am
jerrod baum child porn charges...
FILE: Jerrod Baum appears for a hearing in Provo on Thursday, April 26, 2018. Baum is accused of killing two people and leaving their bodies in an abandoned mine. Photo: Rick Egan, Deseret News.

PROVO, Utah — Evidence uncovered as part of the investigation into the disappearance and murder of two Utah teens now means the suspect in that case, due to begin trial Monday, will also face charges related to child porn. 

Prosecutors filed charges of sexual exploitation of a minor against Jerrod Baum in January. Those charges came separately from the capital murder case for which he stands trial this week. 

In all, Baum faces six felony counts related to the discovery of child pornography on a cell phone deputies found during a search of his residence after the disappearance of Riley Powell and Breezey Otteson in early 2018. 

Child porn leads to more charges for murder suspect

Search warrant affidavits filed with Fourth District Court, which covers Utah County, show sheriff’s deputies found as many as five phones at Baum’s residence in January 2018. Later that year, a Utah County crime lab technician alerted investigators that one of the phones appeared to contain child porn. 

Investigators describe the phone as containing images of young teens or tweens, not Otteson or Powell, apparently around the ages of 13 or 14 years old, engaged in sex acts. In one image, two boys appeared to hold down a girl while performing sex acts. 

Charging documents identify the phone as belonging to Baum. 

Baum already had an initial appearance on the charges in Provo District Court in January. He’s scheduled for a preliminary hearing in the child porn case on March 22.

Even if Baum is convicted of the crimes, he likely won’t see the death penalty. Utah County’s attorney, David Leavitt, was one of four Utah district attorneys who said they would no longer seek the death penalty in any case

A bill to repeal the death penalty in the state failed during the 2022 general session of the legislature.

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Evidence uncovered in murder probe leads to child porn charges for suspect