UTAH COUNTY (KSTU) -- The Utah County Attorney will allow the death penalty to be considered in the case of a man accused of murdering two teenagers and dumping their bodies in a mine shaft.
Jerrod Baum pleaded not guilty in connection with the deaths of Breezy Otteson and Riley Powell in June, and last week the families of the deceased said they hoped the death penalty would be considered.
“He's been locked up...since he was 15," said Amanda Hunt, Breezy Otteson's aunt. "So, over half his life he's been locked up so clearly institutionalizing him is not the answer."
David O. Leavitt, Utah County Attorney, announced Wednesday his office will allow the death penalty to be considered in the case.
He made the distinction that he’s not seeking the death penalty, but also not taking it off the table.
“I'm giving this power to people,” Leavitt said.
Leavitt also said he’s leaving the decision in the hands of the jury.
“If they find him guilty then it is the jury's role, society's role, to decide if he should receive the death penalty or not,” he said.
Baum is charged with eight felonies: two counts of aggravated murder, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, two counts of desecration of a body, one count of possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person, and one count of obstructing justice.
Weighing the high costs and dire statistics associated with capital punishment, Levitt said he based his decision on what’s best for society.
“It's not simply about creating some sort of justice for Riley and Breezy. It's also about protecting the rest of us,” Leavitt said.