Murder trial begins for Utah man accused of killing teenage couple in 2017

Posted at 5:21 PM, Mar 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-07 19:21:29-05

PROVO, Utah — The trial for a man accused of killing a young Eureka couple began Monday, over four years after their deaths.

These families have waited a long time for this jury trial to begin.

They say they have mixed emotions, and they hope there is a guilty verdict by the end of this trial.

“It’s unreal that we’re here today. It’s been a long time waiting,” said Amanda Davis, Breezy Otteson's aunt.

The families of 18-year-old Riley Powell and 17-year-old Breezy Otteson were brought together four years ago through the unimaginable.

46-year-old Jerrod Baum is charged with killing the couple in December 2017.

After a lengthy search for the missing pair, their bodies were found inside the Tintic mine near Eureka in March of 2018.

“We’re grateful we’re here," Davis said. "Patience — hopefully good things come to those who wait, because we’ve waited."

The first witness to speak in Monday’s hearing was Morgan Henderson, the girlfriend of Jerrod Baum. Henderson gave up information leading police to the bodies about three months after they were killed.

Henderson testified about the night the teens were killed.

She says she invited the pair over for a bit to smoke some marijuana while Baum wasn’t home.

After they left, Baum came home and led Henderson outside.

“He went to the back of the Jeep, and I could see that Riley and Breezy were tied up,” Henderson said.

Court documents state Baum had warned her about having male friends and had threatened her to help him hide evidence.

The families of the victims say there will never truly be justice in this case.

“Justice for Breezy and for Riley," Davis said. "I don’t know that there’s really true justice. Hopefully there’s a guilty verdict and we can move on to the next chapter of healing."

Baum is facing several charges, including two counts of aggravated murder and two counts of aggravated kidnapping.

“I wish the death penalty was still on the table," said Bill Powell, Riley Powell's father. "[If] anyone deserves it, it'd be the person who committed this crime."

Originally, the Utah County Attorney said he planned to seek the death penalty, but then he changed his mind.

READ: Utah County attorney says he will no longer seek the death penalty in future court cases

The families say they still get together on special occasions to remember the young couple, and they will continue to stand together through this trial.

“We have two families that have come together, so now we have a bigger family, which is pretty awesome," said Bill Powell.

WATCH: Families of murder victims react to Utah County death penalty announcement

“Our families will continue to be meshed together and continue to just honor them,” Davis added.

The trial is expected to last a few months.