Provo • The prosecution of the man accused of killing a young Juab County couple will be dragged out, excruciating.
“We knew it was going to be long and drawn out. We knew that it wasn’t going to be quick and fast. Unfortunately, that’s how it goes,” Amanda Hunt said after Jerrod Baum’s brief appearance Thursday in front of a 4th District judge.
Baum, 41, is accused of killing teenagers Riley Powell and Breezy Otteson and dumping their bodies in an abandoned mine shaft.
A hearing for Baum to decide if he wants a preliminary hearing was continued to August, at the request of his defense attorneys.
For less than five minutes the heavily tattooed Baum — who has a swastika tattoo on his right temple — stood quietly with his attorney, no more than 20 feet from the families of those he is accused of killing. The neckline of his green jail shirt dipped just below a second, larger, swastika tattoo on his chest.
The pain of seeing Baum is hard to put into words, Hunt said.
“I shake when I see him,” said Riley’s sister, Nikka Powell.
But despite that, the families of the two teenagers were at the Provo courthouse for Thursday’s hearing, and they’ll be in Provo again for the Aug. 1, Hunt said.
“We’re here. This is where we’re going to be,” she said, standing with Bill Powell, Riley’s father.
The homicides have brought the two families close, they both said.
“Bill is family,” Hunt said, smiling. “He’s stuck with me.”
“You’re stuck with me,” Powell replied.
On Saturday, they plan to celebrate what would have been Riley’s 19th birthday with hot dogs, paper lanterns and kickball — a sport Riley liked to play — at the park.
Baum was accused in March of killing the young couple because they had visited Baum’s girlfriend, who later told police her controlling partner forbade her from having male friends.
He was charged in April in 4th District Court with two counts of first-degree felony aggravated murder, two counts of first-degree felony aggravated kidnapping and four other felonies, including obstructing justice and being a felon in possession of a dangerous weapon.
Deputy Utah County Attorney Chad Grunander has said prosecutors could seek the death penalty, a decision that must be made within 60 days after the preliminary hearing is held.
Baum allegedly kidnapped the teens and forced 17-year-old Breezy to kneel next to the mine in which he later dumped her body and to watch him beat up and stab her 18-year-old boyfriend. Then, he allegedly cut her throat, according to court papers.
The bodies remained hidden in an abandoned shaft in mine-spotted western Utah until 34-year-old Morgan Henderson, Baum’s girlfriend, led law enforcement to the shaft.
Henderson has been charged with two counts of second-degree felony obstructing justice. According to police, she twice denied knowing anything about Riley and Breezy’s disappearance before little by little revealing what she knew.
On the evening og Dec. 29, the teenagers came to Henderson and Baum’s home in Mammoth to smoke marijuana, according to Henderson. When Baum found out, he was upset, reportedly because Henderson wasn’t supposed to have any male friends.
She thought the teenagers had already left when Baum came inside the home, she told police. But he led her outside, where the teens were tied up in the back of Riley’s Jeep, she told police. According to court papers, the teens’ hands and feet were bound together, and their mouths were duct-taped shut.
Baum allegedly drove Henderson and the teens into Utah County, to the Tintic Standard No. 2 mine shaft, where he used a knife to kill the young couple, according to Henderson. She also told police that Baum dumped their bodies down the shaft.
Baum had quietly become a person of interest in the case and was arrested on suspicion of a probation violation on Jan. 30. His home was searched Jan. 31, court papers say, and he was charged with possession of a firearm by a felon.
Baum has been convicted of a number of of gun-, drug- and theft-related offenses and aggravated assault, according to Utah court records.
For months, family members and friends searched the mine-covered area for any sign of the two teens.
On March 28, law enforcement recovered two bodies from a ledge 100 feet down the 1,800-foot shaft. Baum was arrested the same day. An autopsy two days later confirmed what police and family suspected: The bodies belonged to Riley and Breezy.
Breezy and Riley started dating about four months before their disappearance. Breezy lived in Tooele for most of her life, before moving into Riley’s home in Eureka, an old mining town.
BREEZY AND RILEY TIMELINE
Dec. 29, 2017: Riley Powell, 18, and Brelynne “Breezy” Otteson, 17, communicate with family members while traveling home to Eureka from Tooele.
Dec. 29, 2017, 11 p.m.: Riley contacts Morgan Henderson, Jerrod Baum’s live-in girlfriend. Riley arranges to meet at Henderson’s home in Mammoth at midnight. That night, Riley and Breezy’s social media activity ceases.
Early Dec. 30: Riley and Breezy arrive at Henderson’s home. When Baum arrives, he’s “upset that the teens had visited” Henderson.
Baum ties up the teens and puts them in the back of Riley’s Jeep.
Baum drives Riley’s Jeep — with Henderson in the car and Riley and Breezy tied up — to the Tintic Standard No. 2 mine, where he kills Riley and Breezy as Henderson watches.
Baum drives Henderson back to their home in Mammoth.
Henderson drives Riley’s Jeep to Cherry Creek Reservoir; Baum accompanies her in a truck. The truck gets stuck, and the two use a tie-down strap to pull it out. They abandon the Jeep near Cherry Creek Reservoir.
Jan. 2: Riley and Breezy are reported missing.
Jan. 9: Police interview Henderson and Baum together at their home in Mammoth. Both deny knowing anything about the teens’ disappearance.
Jan. 11: Police find Riley’s Jeep at Cherry Creek Reservoir. It has a tie-down strap on it, and the tires have been slashed.
Between Jan. 9 and Jan. 25: Police find a Facebook Messenger thread between Riley and Henderson, in which Riley agrees to meet Henderson at her house at midnight on Dec. 29.
Jan. 25: Police interview Henderson in a deputy’s vehicle as Baum watches from outside. Henderson initially denies having seen Riley and Breezy before they disappeared, but after police confront her about the Facebook conversation, she tells police that the teens came over “sometime after midnight,” stayed for 40 minutes and then left.
March 25: Henderson is pulled over for speeding and is arrested on suspicion of unrelated allegations in Sanpete County. Police interview her again, and she tells them that Baum killed Riley and Breezy.
March 26: Henderson takes police to the mine where Riley and Breezy’s bodies were dumped. She also takes police to a sludge barrel that contains destroyed cellphones and other items.
March 27: Henderson tells police she was there for the killings and describes the way Baum bound and stabbed the teens. Police use a camera to search the mine shaft and discover the two teens’ bodies on a ledge about 100 feet down.
March 28: Police recover Riley’s and Breezy’s bodies and send them to the medical examiner. Baum is transferred from the Juab County jail, where he was being held on suspicion of unrelated crimes, to the Utah County jail on suspicion of the homicides.
March 30: An autopsy confirms that the bodies are Breezy and Riley’s. Henderson is booked into the Utah County jail on suspicion of obstructing justice.
April 2: Baum is charged in 4th District Court with killing the teens.
Timeline based on information from probable cause statements filed with the court.