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Families of murder victims react to Utah county death penalty announcement

Posted at 9:24 PM, Sep 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-08 23:24:11-04

PROVO, Utah — The families of two teens murdered in 2017 are angered and disappointed by a decision to no longer pursue the death penalty against the accused killer.

Wednesday morning, Utah County Attorney David Leavitt announced his office will no longer seek capital punishment in any case.

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

The announcement means Jerrod Baum, the accused killer of Brelynne “Breezy” Otteson and Riley Powell, will no longer face the penalty of death when his case goes to trial next year.

The announcement shocked Bill Powell, Riley’s father.

“We went in hoping to get something accomplished today and we took a step backward,” he said. “I want to see him executed. I want to see him tortured like he tortured the kids.”

Bill Powell did not hold back when asked what was going through his mind when Leavitt announced his decision.

“He’s a chicken****,” he said.

Bill was joined by Amanda Davis, the aunt of Breezy Otteson, outside the courthouse in Provo.

“I think this announcement was just as hard as the day they were found,” Amanda said.

She feels like this decision takes away the voice of victims and hands a victory to an accused killer.

“Our justice system is broken,” she said. “At what point do the kids get a voice in this? They didn't get to choose to live. They don't get to laugh. They don't get to write family members. They don't get to make phone calls. Baum gets all of that.”

Amanda believes the decision was politically motivated.

FOX 13 reached out to David Leavitt to respond to the concerns raised by the families. In a statement he said, “My heart goes out to these families. I’ve been weighing these issues for years. These families are living with the pain of great loss hoping that the death penalty will bring solace. I know that this is a difficult announcement for them today. I respect that.”

David Leavitt’s complete remarks on no longer seeking the death penalty can be found here.