David Yocum, former Salt Lake County DA, has died

Jan 23, 2024, 7:00 AM

FILE: Salt Lake District Attorney David Yocum listens to lawyers address Judge Judith Atherton in a...

FILE: Salt Lake District Attorney David Yocum listens to lawyers address Judge Judith Atherton in a status conference regarding Wanda Barzee Tuesday. (Al Hartmann pool photo/Salt Lake Tribune, Submission date: 10/07/2003)

(Al Hartmann pool photo/Salt Lake Tribune, Submission date: 10/07/2003)

SALT LAKE CITY — Former Salt Lake County District Attorney David Yocum has died at the age of 85.

Salt Lake County DA Sim Gill announced Yocum’s death on Monday. The official cause of death was not released.

Yocum had a history of involvement in some of Utah’s most notorious criminal cases, as a prosecutor and defense attorney.

He became a part-time deputy district attorney “in the early 1970s,” Gill said in a press release. He was first elected Salt Lake County DA in 1986, and he would serve four total terms in that position. 

Bundy and LeBaron

Yocum “successfully prosecuted and convicted serial killer Ted Bundy of aggravated kidnapping in 1976,” Gill wrote.  That prosecution sent Bundy to prison for the first time.

Bundy came to Utah to attend law school at the University of Utah. As reported by KSL TV, he had already begun killing women and girls when he lived in Utah. A Florida judge sentenced Bundy to death in 1989. He died by electric chair in the same year.

Yocum returned to the Salt Lake County DA’s office in 1977 to work on the trial of Ervil LeBaron, a fundamentalist polygamist leader charged with ordering the deaths of dozens of people from other polygamist sects. LeBaron died in prison in 1981.

Joseph Paul Franklin

Yocum was on the opposing side of a prosecutor’s office when he was the defense attorney for Joseph Paul Franklin, who, in 1980, fatally shot two Black men near Liberty Park in Salt Lake City. In this case, Yocum defended his client against first-degree murder charges as well as federal civil rights charges.

Franklin was found guilty of a string of race-related murders. He was executed in Missouri in 2013.

Mark Hoffman

As Salt Lake County Attorney, Yocum oversaw other sensational Utah cases including that of Mark Hoffman, a gifted document forger who turned to bomb-making. In 1986 officials charged Hoffman with first-degree murder. He remains jailed in Utah.

“David was an advocate for bringing the District Attorney’s office closer to the courts to help the two entities work together more efficiently,” Gill said in a statement, “a vision that I was honored to help see through to its completion. David spoke his mind, never shied away from tough cases, and made a positive difference in this community.”

This story will be updated.

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David Yocum, former Salt Lake County DA, has died