Murder trial of Jerrod Baum in hands of jury

Posted at 5:24 PM, Apr 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-13 23:12:15-04

PROVO, Utah — Closing arguments in the murder trial of a Utah man accused of killing two teenagers wrapped up Wednesday evening.

Jerrod Baum is charged with murdering 17-year-old Breezy Otteson and 18-year-old Riley Powell in 2017. He allegedly stabbed the couple to death, then dumped their bodies down a Eureka mine.

After over a month of trial, the case is now in the jury’s hands.

“I don’t know if we’d be able to do this two years ago and be as emotionally prepared,” said Amanda Davis, Breezy’s aunt.

At the end of the day it all comes down to the testimony of Morgan Lewis, formerly known as Morgan Henderson, who was Baum’s girlfriend at the time of the murders. She told police that she was there for the kidnappings and the murder, and watched him dispose of the bodies and evidence.

Utah County attorney Christine Scott’s closing statement reminded the jury of the gruesome details Lewis shared when she testified last month.

"Morgan said she saw Jerrod stab Riley in the groin, chest, head, throat and face. Riley started to gurgle, he said, 'I am dying'," Scott reminded the jury.

Prosecutors said Riley and Lewis had a previous relationship which was Baum’s motive to attack Riley and Breezy.

“He retaliated against Riley and Morgan and made her watch so she would know this is what happens when you break my rules,” said prosecutor Ryan McBride.

Baum’s defense team argued Lewis’ credibility is not to be trusted, saying blood and DNA evidence don’t match up with her story.

"Jerrod’s DNA is not anywhere and if it plays out the way Morgan describes it, how on earth does that happen?” said defense attorney Dallas Young.

Young said DNA on evidence shows a mystery person that could belong to the real killer.

“We know that we have this other identified person,” said Young. “We don’t know who they are, but Morgan should.”

Prosecutors countered Young’s claim, saying Lewis and Baum burnt and bleached all the important evidence and DNA. McBride said Baum also soaked key pieces of evidence in murky water to rid of any scenes from the crime.

Riley’s father, Bill Powell, is confident with the state’s presentation of the case and hopes the jury sees their side.

“There’s no such thing as justice,” he said. “There will never be justice in this case.”

Baum faces two counts of aggravated murder and two counts of aggravated kidnapping among many other charges.

The jury deliberated for three hours Wednesday night and wrapped up around 8 p.m. They’ll be back to deliberation Thursday at 8:30 a.m.