Man charged with murdering couple wants judge disqualified from case

PROVO — Attorneys for a man charged with killing a teenage couple from Eureka and dumping their bodies down an deserted mine shaft want the decide over his case to recuse herself.

They allege in new courtroom filings that 4th District Decide Christine Johnson has shown bias and coordinated with prosecutors in her chambers to acquire testimony from Jerrod William Baum’s girlfriend — the only witness tying him to the deaths — that might be used towards him.

Courtroom data present Johnson has not yet filed a response, however a prosecutor on Tuesday denied there was any coordination.

Defense lawyer Dustin Parmley alleges that as a way to give Morgan Reannon Henderson incentive to testify in Baum’s murder trial, Johnson agreed to permit her to walk free as soon as Baum’s case is resolved.

Johnson on Oct. 5 sentenced Henderson, 35, to 3 years in jail after she struck a plea cope with prosecutors, agreeing to testify towards Baum. Henderson pleaded responsible to 10 counts of obstructing justice, a second-diploma felony. She admitted mendacity to authorities after she noticed Baum drive Riley Powell, 18, and Brelynne “Breezy” Otteson, 17, to an abandoned mine, the place police say he slit their throats and discarded their bodies on Dec. 30, 2017.

The decide on the time stated she understood the explanations behind the plea deal.

“I have agreed to bind myself to the terms of it because I consider those reasons are essential,” she stated in courtroom, in accordance with a transcript in courtroom data.

Parmley argues that earlier than Henderson admitted to the crimes and recounted what she had seen, the decide strayed from commonplace follow and placed her underneath oath in an effort to safe sworn testimony towards Baum.

Parmley wrote that he tried to verify his perception by asking the state for data. Prosecutors offered a few of them, courtroom documents present, however objected to handing over others.

“We expect Decide Johnson has been a terrific decide on the Baum case, in addition to the Morgan Henderson case,” stated deputy Utah County lawyer Chad Grunander. “There was no coordination with prosecutors in the Henderson case. … We simply met her and explained what the resolution was going to be, and asked her to bind herself and agree, which is allowed underneath the principles and never unusual.”

Grunander declined to provide specifics, noting the state does not get a chance to reply in courtroom when a defense lawyer seeks to disqualify a decide.

Baum faces a number of felony expenses, including two counts of aggravated homicide and two counts of aggravated kidnapping. The case carries a potential dying sentence if he is convicted.

Parmley didn’t immediately respond to messages left Tuesday.

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