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Former girlfriend of accused killer testifies about the night two Juab County teens died

Posted at 9:08 PM, Mar 06, 2019

PROVO -- Disturbing new details about the murder of two Juab County teens was revealed on Wednesday, during testimony in a preliminary hearing for the man accused of killing them.

Jerrod Baum is charged with murdering Breezy Otteson and Riley Powell, and dumping their bodies down an abandoned mine shaft near Eureka.

In a preliminary hearing for Baum on Wednesday in district court in Provo, his former girlfriend talked publicly for the first time about what happened just after midnight on December 30, 2017.

Morgan Lewis, who was known as Morgan Henderson at the time of the murders, testified for three hours on the stand.

She detailed her and Baum's relationship history, saying that Baum was possessive and didn't want her to hang out with other men. Lewis said she asked Riley to come over on the evening December 29.

Lewis said Riley and Breezy stayed for about 40 minutes. They left, and she went to get ready for bed. Baum came home, she said, and she could tell he was angry.

She explained that Baum led her outside, where she saw the young couple in the back of Riley's Jeep.

"Jerrod told me to get in the car, and I felt I was scared," Lewis said. "And, I listened to him. I knew that something bad was happening. It wasn't a normal situation."

She testified that Baum drove the four through Eureka and east of town, onto a back road. Lewis said Baum stopped the Jeep, and she realized Breezy and Riley were tied up, with duct tape over their mouths. Baum got the teens out and ripped the duct tape off, she said.

Baum was carrying a knife, and she said he told the teens not to try anything stupid or they would get hurt.

"I knew I needed to listen to him, or I would get hurt," she said. She said considered running, but felt it best to comply.

He ordered the group to walk, which Lewis said they did for about a quarter of a mile. She said the conversation became light and joking, despite Riley and Breezy's hands being tied.

At one point, Breezy asked for her hands to be untied, Lewis said, and Jerrod replied, "No, we're almost there." Breezy then said she was pregnant, which Lewis said she believed Breezy did in order to "try to humanize" herself. Then the four of them arrived at the mine.

Lewis said Baum ordered her on her knees in front of the mine hole "execution style," and did the same with Breezy.

Riley stood in front of them, she said, and asked if he could kiss his girlfriend. Lewis said that's when she noticed Breezy was crying.

Baum began to hit Riley, Lewis said, while calling him a number of vulgar names.

“I could hear Riley say, ‘I'm dying,'' Lewis recalled. "And, he was gurgling. And that's when I realized that, [Baum] wasn't hitting Riley. He was stabbing Riley.”

After Riley appeared to have died, Lewis said Baum kept going, and wouldn't stop.

Then she explained that Jerrod said, "Goodbye Riley, you piece of sh**," as he threw Riley's body down the mine.

She went on to testify, “He knelt down behind Breezy, and he took her in his arms, and he said, ‘It's okay darlin'... shhhhh.’ It looked like he was rocking her.”

Lewis said that's when Baum killed Breezy, by cutting her throat. She said Breezy slouched down, and Baum "delicately" picked Breezy up, also tossing her body in the mine.

Soon after, Lewis said that Jerrod told her, "I've never killed an innocent." She said he was talking about Breezy.

"I said, 'Jerrod please don't.' I thought he was going to kill me next," she said.

Baum looked manic, Lewis said, and overjoyed. "He's got a huge grin on his face," she testified. "Jerrod said, 'That was like lambs to the slaughter. They didn't even fight.'"

The families of Breezy and Riley had never heard Lewis tell the full story until Wednesday's hearing.

"The details behind what happened to Riley, I know that was a hard pill to swallow," said Amanda Hunt, Breezy's aunt.

After hearing the testimony, Riley's father Bill Powell called Baum and "evil person who shouldn't be on this earth."

"What happened to Riley is just, looks to me like [Baum] was in some sort of fit of rage or whatever," Powell said. "And then, [Lewis] said he was smiling, like he enjoyed it."

No matter what happens in court from here, both said they know they won't get closure in the deaths of the two teens. At this point, they indicated, closure isn't what this is about.

"We know that him being tried and, hopefully, the death penalty coming-- that’s it not going to be… It’s not ever going to give us that peace that we’re looking for," Hunt said. "But at least it gives validation that we’re going to fight for the kids. That’s all we can do, at this point, is fight in their honor."

Baum faces eight charges in the deaths of Breezy and Riley, including aggravated murder and aggravated kidnapping.

Lewis took a plea deal in October. She pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and agreed to testify in exchange for no prison time.

Baum's preliminary hearing will continue on Thursday.