Murder suspect wants to fire public defender, represent himself at trial

Jan 16 2013 - 11:08pm



OGDEN -- Prosecutors have advised a judge the case law is there to allow former death row inmate Doug Lovell to shoot himself in the foot if he so chooses.

Lovell, who once pleaded guilty to the 1985 murder of a woman he raped, has been complaining about his lead public defender since August.

At a Dec. 20 hearing, a 2nd District judge advised him that his only alternative would be to represent himself at his coming death penalty murder trial if he refused his assigned public defender.

At the hearing, prosecutors told Judge Michael Lyon they would look up the case law to resolve what they called Lovell's delaying tactics. Filed last week, it essentially backs Lyon's position, saying Lovell's alleged ploy amounts to losing his right to a court-appointed lawyer.

"Once a defendant has been warned that he will lose his attorney if he engages in dilatory (delaying) tactics, any misconduct thereafter may be treated as an implied request to proceed pro se and thus, as a waiver of the right to counsel," reads the motion.

Lovell was scheduled for a status conference today to continue the debate about his legal representation.

Lovell has been writing letters to the court, claiming a lack of communication with lead counsel Mike Bouwhuis. Lyon has ruled Lovell's complaints must meet a higher standard than mere disagreement over strategy before he can remove Bouwhuis.

Lovell, 54, left death row in July 2010 after almost 17 years there when the Utah Supreme Court ruled he could withdraw his guilty plea to aggravated murder. The justices cited technical errors when the plea was entered in 1993.

Lovell's case is aberrant in that he took the stand at his 1993 sentencing hearing to explain how and why he killed 39-year-old Joyce Yost, of South Ogden.

Lovell is still serving a term of 15 years to life for the 1985 rape of Yost. She disappeared that year, strangled by Lovell to prevent her from testifying about the rape, according to his own testimony at his sentencing hearing.

His murder trial is set for the bulk of February 2014, the date set more than a year out in anticipation of numerous defense motions common to any death penalty case.

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