CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Jury begins their deliberations in the murder trial against Jerrod Baum

Apr 13, 2022, 8:20 PM | Updated: Dec 30, 2022, 11:20 am

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)

(KSL TV)

PROVO, Utah — After more than four years of waiting and a month worth of courtroom testimony, the murder trial against Jerrod Baum is finally in the hands of a jury.  Baum is accused of stabbing and killing Riley Powell and Brelynne “Breezy” Otteson in late 2017, then dumping their bodies in an abandoned mine.

Baum murder trial

Throughout the case, prosecutors relied heavily on the testimony of Baum’s ex-girlfriend, Morgan Lewis.  She claims Baum was abusive and controlling, even forcing her to go through some sort of blood sacrifice to warn her that he would kill her loved ones if she ever left him.  Lewis also claimed Baum refused to let her have male friends that he didn’t approve, and he became violently jealous when Powell and Otteson came over to visit.

Ex-girlfriend claimed to be too afraid to come forward

Prosecutors say Lewis was forced to watch as Baum walked Powell and Otteson to the opening of the Tintic Standard Number Two Mine, accused Powell of having sex with Lewis, then stabbed him several times.  Otteson reportedly watched, sobbing and pleading for her life.  However, Baum allegedly slit Otteson’s throat after reassuring her that everything would be fine.

Deputy Utah County Attorney Christine Scott told jurors Lewis was terrified to come forward, convinced her son’s life was in danger.  Scott claimed Baum threatened to kill Lewis if she even cried about the murders.

Scott said, “He takes a garrote, puts it around her throat, pulls and says, ‘The next time you think about crying about Riley, you think about whether or not you want to see your son ever again.”

In March of 2018, Lewis was pulled over for speeding and arrested for possible drug and weapons violations.  While speaking with investigators, she reportedly said she felt “tremendous guilt” about the murders and told police what happened at the mine.  Scott refuted the claims that Lewis was being coached by investigators and telling them what they wanted to hear.

“Morgan was telling them stuff that the officers did not know before that statement.  Every officer that testified, and Morgan, said, ‘We weren’t telling her what happened.  She was telling us,’” Scott said.

Defense attorneys say Lewis can’t be trusted

However, defense attorney Dallas Young claimed the prosecution relied too heavily on Lewis’ testimony, adding that the jury has plenty of reasons not to believe her.

Young said, “The first one would be the lies she told to law enforcement officers.  Second, the lies she has told to prosecutors.”

Young claimed Lewis had been dealing with addiction and mental health issues, saying her perceptions of the events were skewed.  Plus, he claimed Lewis was the only one who connected Baum to the murders.

“You have heard evidence from Morgan, and Morgan alone, that implicates Mr. Baum.  Nobody else has presented any evidence, whether it’s testimony, physical evidence, whether it’s forensic analysis… nothing,” Young said.

Young also made the claim that Lewis could have been behind the murders and planted evidence to implicate Baum.  However, during the rebuttal argument, Deputy Utah County Attorney Ryan McBride refuted that idea. He said Lewis only came forward after being pressured by police.

McBride said, “She wasn’t trying to frame him.  If she was, she would have done a better job of framing him, and she would have come forward earlier.”

Prosecutors also played recordings of phone calls between Baum and a new girlfriend. During which he reportedly laughed about people taking down and destroying signs saying, “Justice for Riley and Breezy.”

 

Related articles:

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Crime, Police + Courts

Chad Daybell and attorney John Prior on day five of his murder trial on April 17, 2024....

Lauren Steinbrecher

Chad Daybell didn’t steal money from wife’s dead children

On the fifth day of the Chad Daybell murder trial Wednesday, the courtroom’s focus turned to an alleged plot to steal money meant for Colby Ryan‘s two murdered children.

1 hour ago

12% of women in Utah do not report sexual assault...

Eric Cabrera

Only 12% of Utah women report sexual assault, DA’s Office says

The Utah District Attorney's Office said for every 100 Utah women who are sexually assaulted, 88 of them won't report it.

2 hours ago

Willard City Police Department is asking the public to report any sightings of this vehicle to the ...

Emma Keddington

Willard City Police Department warns public of lottery scam

The Willard City Police department is asking for help from the public, as they try to find individuals involved in a lottery scam. 

11 hours ago

A wrecked white car sits on a green lawn at night....

Cassidy Wixom

Provo police searching for driver whose car flew through air, damaging 2 cars

Provo police are searching for a woman they say fled from officers before crashing a car. The crash caused damaged to two other cars.

15 hours ago

Chad Daybell during his murder trial on April 16, 2024....

Mary Culbertson

Judge bars prosecutor from taking stand in Chad Daybell trial

On the fourth day of testimony in the Chad Daybell trial Tuesday, the jury heard further testimony from law enforcement officers.

1 day ago

A Utah Highway Patrol Trooper has been arrested for allegedly assaulting his daughter's friend....

Simone Seikaly

Utah trooper arrested for allegedly assaulting daughter’s friend

Richfield police allege a Utah Highway Patrol trooper inappropriately touched a 19-year-old woman -- a friend of his daughter's -- without her consent.

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.

...

Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Jury begins their deliberations in the murder trial against Jerrod Baum