PROVO, Utah – Six days after the bodies of Riley Powell and Breezy Otteson were recovered from an abandoned mine in Utah County, their families faced their alleged killer, Jerrod Baum, in court as the Utah County Attorney revealed gruesome details about the case.
Riley’s sister, Nikka Powell, broke into tears as she described her feelings after seeing Baum for the first time, according to KSTU.
"My brother didn’t deserve this and neither did she. They had a whole life. We had a whole life to live. She was only 17. He was 18," said Powell.
According to charging documents, Baum’s girlfriend, Morgan Henderson, says Baum arrived home and became upset that the two teens had visited her.
According to a probable cause statement released in court, Henderson said, "Baum bound the victims’ hands and feet, duct-taped their mouths, and placed them in the back of Riley’s jeep."
The probable cause statement also said that Breezy was, "forced to kneel near the open mine pit and witness the beating and stabbing of her boyfriend, Riley Powell before she had throat cut and (was) thrown into the open mine".
Utah County Deputy District Attorney Chad Grunander said Baum was under the impression that Breezy was pregnant, "offering his congratulations as they walked from the car to the open mine shaft."
"There was a belief she was pregnant but, in fact, we do not believe she was," said Grunander.
Breezy’s aunt, Amanda Hunt, said the thought makes the murder even more horrific.
"If you thought she was pregnant, you’re not only taking two lives, you’re taking a third life and it just makes it more heinous. We don’t understand. It’s not fair," said Hunt.
After the murders, Baum told Henderson he "made Riley suffer, but felt bad about Breezy so he made her death quick and painless," according to charging documents.
At this point, Henderson is only facing obstruction of justice charges.
"An accomplice requires proactive participation in the crime, but also that individual must have the same mental state as the primary actor," said Grunander.
Baum could face the death penalty for the aggravated murder charges.
"This is a potential capital case," Grunander said. "Mr. Baum could die for what he allegedly did."
Riley’s father, Bill Powell, said he thinks that’s exactly the punishment Baum deserves.
"Hit him in the head with a hammer. I mean really. Did those kids get pain reliever or anything? No, they got tortured. They suffered," Powell said.
"It’s just hard to actually realize that they’re gone now. Really gone," said Nikka Powell.
The Utah County Attorney is still deciding whether or not to pursue the death penalty. If not, the minimum sentence for aggravated murder is 25 years to life in prison.
Baum will be back in court on April 26.