Longtime Utah prosecutor David Yocom dies at age 85

Jan 22, 2024, 5:02 PM

Former Salt Lake County District Attorney David Yocum on Dec. 7, 2006. Yocum died Friday at age 85....

Former Salt Lake County District Attorney David Yocum on Dec. 7, 2006. Yocum died Friday at age 85. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

(Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Former Salt Lake County District Attorney David Yocom, who prosecuted some of Utah’s highest profile cases during his four-decade career, has passed away.

Yocom died Friday at the age of 85, according to the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office. His exact cause of death was not released. According to his obituary, he “died peacefully in his home.”

Yocom graduated from Granite High School in 1956 and earned his law degree in 1965 at the University of Utah. In 1969, he began prosecuting cases for the Salt County Attorney’s Office and was first elected as Salt Lake County attorney in 1986.

The cases Yocom prosecuted were some of the highest profile in state history, including Ted Bundy and Ervil LeBaron, and he was a defense attorney for white supremacist Joseph Paul Franklin. While leading the district attorney’s office, he oversaw the prosecutions of Addam Swapp, Mark Hofmann, Richard Worthington and Brian David Mitchell.

“Yocom loved being the district attorney and led by example through his passion about the law, victim rights, the rights of the accused, and those moving through the legal system,” the district attorney’s office said in a statement Monday.

Salt Lake County District Attorney David Yocom is pictured after he filed charges of misuse of public monies against Salt Lake County Mayor Nancy Workman, at a press conference at the District Attorney Office in Salt Lake City on September 7, 2004.
Salt Lake County District Attorney David Yocom is pictured after he filed charges of misuse of public monies against Salt Lake County Mayor Nancy Workman, at a press conference at the District Attorney Office in Salt Lake City on September 7, 2004. (Photo: Michael Brandy, Deseret News)

“It was an honor to work with David as the district attorney. He not only inspired me as a young prosecutor but served as an example and mentor for me and hundreds of Salt Lake County deputy district attorneys over his long tenure in office,” District Attorney Sim Gill said. “David was an advocate for bringing the district attorney’s office closer to the courts to help the two entities work together more efficiently, a vision that I was honored to help see through to its completion. David spoke his mind, never shied away from tough cases and made a positive difference in this community.”

Yocom retired at the end of 2006.

“He was passionate about public service, victim advocacy, and leading the attorneys in his office. While often seeming gruff on the outside, those who knew him well, knew David had a dry sense of humor and cared deeply for the public servants under his administration and the important work they did,” his obituary states.

When he wasn’t working, his family said Yocom loved boating on either Flaming Gorge or Lake Powell.

“After retiring, David and Linda moved to Sunriver, St. George, where he reconnected with old friends and colleagues, who he enjoyed golfing and reminiscing with. He even got a hole-in-one once. David enjoyed many good years travelling with his family and good friends, and watching his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren grow up. He desperately wanted to keep watching them and hopefully he still is.”

Yocom is survived by his wife of 52 years, Linda, four sons, eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

His family has asked that in lieu of flowers, “please consider donating to the Children’s Justice Center of Salt Lake County or plant a tree.

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Longtime Utah prosecutor David Yocom dies at age 85