Provo, Utah (ABC4) – Did someone else murder two teens?
That’s what the attorney for Jerrod Baum claimed in a recent filing with the court.
Baum was charged in 2018 with capitol murder for the deaths of Brelynne “Breezy” Otteson and Riley Powell.
Their bodies were found in an abandoned mine near Eureka. The charges were based on the eye witness statements of Baum’s former girlfriend, Morgan Henderson.
“I heard Riley say ‘I’m dying’ and he was gurgling and that’s when I realized he wasn’t hitting him but stabbing him,” Henderson testified in a 2019 preliminary hearing.
She is the only person who witnessed the murder of the two teens.
“It was the most horrible sound I’ve ever heard,” Henderson said on the stand.
From the outset, Baum’s attorney attacked the credibility of Henderson.
The defense claimed there was no physical or forensic evidence implicating Baum.
In a recent court filing, Baum’s attorney claimed DNA was found on the bodies of the two teens and it belonged to two unidentified individuals.
The DNA finding is a longshot, according to a former prosecutor and now a defense attorney.
“From an objective point of view, from a defense attorney and as a prosecutor, I would say it would be not likely to succeed,” Kent Morgan said.
The defense also conducted an oculomotor deception exam, which tests eyes. In the court filing, Baum’s attorney claimed he passed with a 95% test result.
A private investigator for the Utah Cold Case Coalition claimed they believe in eye movement tests.
“This technology will measure eye movement and detect a pattern if this person is truthful or untruthful,” said Jason Jensen. “So this is clearly an involuntary reaction. It’s something that can’t be practiced or rehearsed.”
And while the recent findings are arguments for Baum’s claim of innocence, Kent Morgan said the DNA evidence is questionable. He said it would be hard to tell when the DNA came into contact with the teens.
“It could have come from McDonald’s (fast food),” if they had eaten there before they were murdered,” Morgan said.
He also is concerned about the admissibility of the eye detection exam, which most courts refuse to accept.
“A defense attorney should do everything they can to assist their client,” Morgan said. “But it doesn’t change the admissibility.”
To date, it’s unclear whether the judge will allow the eye detection test as part of the evidence for the defense.
Meanwhile, no date has been set for Baum’s trial. Both sides do agree that it will take place sometime after May, but no date has been set.