Utah man enters plea in deaths of teens found in mine shaft

ST. GEORGE — The Juab County man charged with killing two teens and throwing their bodies down an abandoned mine shaft pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder and kidnapping in a Provo courtroom Monday. The prosecuting agency in the case will now determine if they are going to seek the death penalty.

Jerrod Baum, 42, of Mammoth, was charged in 4th District Court in Provo last month with two counts of aggravated murder in the deaths of 18-year-old Riley Powell and 17-year-old Brelynne “Breezy” Otteson, who went missing in December 2017.

Read more: Man ordered to stand trial in deaths of teens in mine shaft

Baum was arrested March 27, 2018, just hours after police recovered the bodies of Otteson and Powell on a shallow ledge 100 feet down a 1,500-foot mine shaft near Eureka. The autopsy reports revealed the teens were stabbed multiple times and died from blunt force trauma.

Jerrod William Baum booking photo from Feb. 13, 2018 | File photo courtesy of the Utah County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

The two were reported missing in January 2018 after they had not been seen nor heard from since the day after Christmas.

The Utah County Attorney’s Office now has 60 days to decide whether or not to seek the death penalty in the case and file a notice of intent to do so with the court.

The case garnered national attention as family and friends searched for the missing teens throughout Utah, searches that continued for months until the bodies were discovered in the abandoned mine three months after the teens were reported missing.

Both families stand firm with the desire to seek the death penalty for Baum, according to a Facebook post from Otteson’s aunt Amanda Hunt.

Site where memorial is being planned for Riley Powell and Brelynne “Breezy” Otteson who were killed in 2018, Eureka, Utah, April 24, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Amanda Hunt, St. George News

Hunt also said that plans are underway to set up a memorial park and trailhead in Eureka in honor of Powell and Otteson on two acres of land donated by Eureka city officials during a meeting with the the couple’s family and Chief Consolidated Mining Company in April.

Baum is being represented by the Utah County Public Defender’s Office in Provo. The next court hearing is set for Aug. 12, as Judge Derek Pullan plans to set up a scheduling order for trial.

This report is based on statements from police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

 

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.