CRIME, POLICE + COURTS
Baum trial wraps up second week with testimony from forensic psychologist
SALT LAKE CITY — The second week of the murder trial against Jerrod Baum wrapped up with testimony from a forensic psychologist and a Juab County investigator.
Baum is accused of killing Riley Powell and Breezy Otteson and throwing their bodies down a mine shaft.
Questioning Baum’s ex-girlfriend
On Friday, jurors heard from a law enforcement officer who interviewed Baum’s ex-girlfriend, Morgan Lewis Henderson, about the case.
Henderson said she saw Baum kill two people. Defense attorneys have questioned her credibility because she originally lied to the police.
Henderson initially denied knowing anything. Juab County Investigator Jeff Hansen described his interview with Henderson.
“I noticed her bottom lip was quivering, she would look down, wouldn’t look at us while she was talking. And she had a bracelet that she kept playing with,” Hansen said.
“All were, in my training and experience were indications that there was something that she didn’t want to talk about that she was very uncomfortable about,” said Hansen.
Henderson later told police she saw Baum kill the couple.
The state claims Henderson lied because she was scared of what Baum would do if she told the truth. On Friday, the state presented a forensic psychologist to talk about how people in abusive relationships act.
“People might think that if it was really that bad a person would leave. It’s often hard for people to wrap their head around the idea that there can be love and affection and that can coexist with abuse and violence,” said psychologist Mindy Mechanic.
Henderson said Baum threatened her, saying he’d hurt her if she left or told police what happened.
Baum’s behavior under the microscope
On Friday, the jury also heard recorded conversations between Baum and the police.
In the 2018 conversation, Baum told police he didn’t care that 18-year-old Riley Powell was killed. Baum also called Powell an expletive. Baum’s ex-girlfriend has said Baum called Powell the same expletive before murdering him. Baum did tell police he felt bad about 17-year-old Breezy Otteson being killed.
In the recorded conversation presented to the jury, Baum maintained his innocence and told police the last time he saw the pair was several weeks before they disappeared.
The Juab County investigator also told the jury that Baum asked him if he could help with the case.
“A lot of times its because they want to try to gain more information about the case and he talked about they had already been following the case on social media, and things, I thought it was strange,” said Hansen.
The officer also mentioned that when he interviewed Baum’s ex-girlfriend in his car, Baum sat on the porch looking at them the entire time.
The trial is expected to continue for several more weeks.
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