LOCAL NEWS

Utah County Attorney announces he will no longer seek the death penalty

Sep 9, 2021, 12:14 PM

PROVO, Utah — Utah County Attorney David Leavitt announced he will no longer seek the death penalty, saying it’s a waste of taxpayer dollars and doesn’t curb crime.

“All of what we’ve spent, and more would be worth it if it would prevent another senseless murder from occurring, but it doesn’t and it won’t,” said Leavitt in a video statement released by his office. “Pretending that the death penalty will somehow curb crime is simply a lie. The answer to preventing these types of horrible crimes is in education and prevention before they occur. No family wants to hear, ‘My child is dead and that man got a long sentence.’ What they want to hear is, ‘My child was never killed.’

That decision did not sit well with Amanda Davis and Bill Powell — family members of teens Riley Powell and Breezy Otteson.

The teens were brutally killed in December 2017, and their bodies were dumped 100 feet down an empty mine shaft after being bound and stabbed.

In 2019, Leavitt announced he was seeking the death penalty against accused killer Jarrod Baum. But that is now off the table.

Davis and Powell said that’s what they were told when they met with Leavitt Wednesday morning at his office before the announcement.

“We feel he’s cowardly,” Davis told KSL TV’s Dan Rascon. “To take it and pull the rug out from underneath us four months before trial it’s disheartening.”

“It’s just not right,” said Powell, who called it nothing more than politically driven and not the voice of the people in Utah County.

Michael Shinners is also very upset. He’s the brother of Provo police officer Joe Shinners, who was shot and killed in the line of duty in January 2019.

Michael Shinners, who is a police sergeant in Massachusetts, said the death penalty was being used as part of a plea deal to get accused killer Matt Hoover to plead guilty for murder so the family would not have to endure a trial. That hearing is set for the end of the month.

Now he fears the case may now go to trial.

“It shows a lack of empathy and compassion I believe toward my family. I’m very set back. I’m very upset and angry,” Shinners said. “It’s negligent and reckless in regards to the case and I’ll be calling for the immediate resignation of Mr. Leavitt if this case is affected in any way. I don’t believe that someone’s personal believes should play a role.”

In response to the Shinners case, Leavitt told KSL in a statement, “The death penalty is ‘The Big Lie.’ We can no longer deceive ourselves into thinking that it delivers justice or compensates victims.”

He later said, “My heart goes out to these families. I’ve been weighing these issues for years. These families are living with the pain of great loss hoping that the death penalty will bring solace. I know that this is a difficult announcement for them today. I respect that,” he said.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

A rattlesnake hiding off a trail in Snow Canyon. (Credit: Suzi Holt)...
Michael Houck

Utahn continue to rattle our inbox with snake tails

As the weather gets warmer, humans are not the only ones enjoying the summer heat; rattlesnakes are also out to get some sun.
16 hours ago
...
Eliza Pace

Anonymous donor offers 50k reward in Cornelis ‘Casey’ Bokslag disappearance

South Salt Lake Police Department and Summit County Sheriff's Office provided an update in the missing person case of Cornelis "Casey" Bokslag, including the announcement of a $50,000 reward offered anonymously for the person that provides info to find Bokslag.
16 hours ago
days of 47 parade 2017...
Cary Schwanitz

SLC Police say safety is “our number one priority” in preparation for Days of ’47 Parade

Following Monday’s deadly shooting at an Independence Day parade near Chicago, the Salt Lake City Police Department called the community its top partner in preventing public threats.
16 hours ago
FILE...
Michael Houck

Kidnapping fugitive in custody after car chase in Taylorsville

A fugitive wanted for aggravated kidnapping and assault led police on a car chase Monday afternoon.
16 hours ago
(Chopper 5/KSL TV)...
Casey Scott, KSL TV

Beautiful Tuesday morning from Chopper 5 over Antelope Island

KSL TV's Casey Scott was above Antelope Island and the Great Salt Lake Tuesday morning, catching a beautiful sunrise and some of the bison roaming the island.
16 hours ago
...
Andrew Adams

Couple recovers after being hit by falling rocks while driving

Quirino Navarro and his wife, Luz, were driving along Highway 6 in the Price Canyon area north of Helper when large rocks began falling from the cliff face in front of them and on top of them
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Utah County Attorney announces he will no longer seek the death penalty