A man murdered a couple of teenagers and dumped bodies in a mine shaft
A Utah man murdered a teenage couple and dumped their bodies in an abandoned mine shaft for hanging out with his then-girlfriend.
Jerrod Baum, 45, faces life in prison for the murder of Brelynne ‘Breezy’ Otteson, 17, and Riley Powell, 18, who disappeared in 2017.
Prosecutors say Baum murdered the two after finding them and then-girlfriend Morgan Lewis at her home in Eureka, Utah. Baum reportedly forbade Ms Lewis from having male visitors, and with her and Mr Powell already dating, he became furious.
Ms Lewis told investigators that Baum went to her house to ‘chat’ while the teenagers were tied up in the back of her Jeep. Baum then led them to an abandoned mine shaft where he beat and stabbed Ms. Otteson to death and slit Mr. Powell’s throat.
Baum then dumped their bodies in the abandoned mine shaft, where they were found months later.
Assistant Utah County Attorney Christine Scott reminded jurors, who deliberated for 18 hours before returning a guilty verdict, of the tedious search for the two that began in December 2017.
“Jerrod Baum kidnapped Riley and Breezy, murdered Riley and Breezy,” she told jurors. “Keep in mind their bodies in the mine shaft. We ask you to find him guilty.
Baum’s lawyer argued that the case hinged entirely on Ms Lewis’ version of events, which he said had changed over time.
‘Without Morgana [Lewis], there’s no case because all of this – this awesome array of all this stuff that you see – none of this involves Jerrod in the least bit,” Dallas Young said. “You cannot believe her, and you cannot be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt.”
However, Utah County Assistant Attorney Ryan McBride said Ms Lewis told police where the teenagers’ bodies were, her testimony helping to locate their bodies.
Families of the murdered teenagers were moved after the guilty verdict was read, with Ms Otteson’s aunt Amanda Davis telling the media it was a huge relief.
“It’s been tense for four years, and to hear that the first ‘guilty’ was, it was like a weight lifted.” It was long overdue, but we did it,” she said. “We got justice for the children.”
Baum was also found guilty of six additional counts as well as two counts of murder, including two counts of aggravated kidnapping, two counts of abuse or desecration of a dead human body and obstruction of justice. .
He faces the maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for the two aggravated murders.