[Warning: Potentially Triggering Content]
The verdict is in for Jerrod Baum (pictured above).
After three days of deliberations, a jury found the Utah man guilty of kidnapping and murdering two teens whose bodies were found in a mine shaft in 2018. The 45-year-old was convicted of two counts of aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping, desecration of a body, and one count of obstruction of justice.
Over four years ago, Brelynne “Breezy” Otteson, 17, and Riley Powell, 18, vanished while traveling from Toole, Utah, to Eureka. After their Jeep was found abandoned, police suspected foul play.
A search team located the bodies inside an abandoned mine shaft near Eureka on March 28, 2018. Hours later, Baum was arrested and charged.
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A charging doc stated the suspect kidnapped the teen couple after they visited his residence, which he shared with his girlfriend, Morgan Henderson. Henderson told investigators Baum prohibited her from having “guy friends.”
Henderson said she thought the teenagers had left the house, but Baum took her outside and showed her that Otteson and Powell were actually in the back of Baum’s Jeep. The victims’ hands and feet were bound and their mouths covered with duct tape, according to allegations in the charging document.
Baum allegedly made Henderson get into the Jeep with him and he drove to the Tintic Standard Mine; the tape at the teenagers’ feet was reportedly cut so they could walk up to the mine. Henderson told investigators, according to the court docs:
“Brelynne was forced to kneel near the open mine pit and witness the beating of her boyfriend, Riley Powell, and his stabbing, before she had her throat cut and was also thrown into the open mine.”
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Baum had originally faced a possible death sentence, but Utah County Attorney David Leavitt decided against it. For the aggravated murder charges, he faces a potential maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Bill Powell, Riley’s dad, said the family is hoping for two sentences of life without parole, telling Desert News he felt “happy” when the guilty verdicts were announced.
Meanwhile, Otteson’s aunt Amanda Davis told KUTV:
“It’s long overdue, but we did it, we did it, the state did it. We’re here and we got justice for the kids.”
Baum’s sentencing is scheduled for June 1.
[Image via Utah County Sheriff’s Office]