OGDEN — Admitted killer Doug Lovell has relented in trying to shed his lead public defender, agreeing to accept legal counsel at his upcoming murder trial.
With that five-month dispute resolved, officials Thursday prepared to debate Lovell’s sworn testimony at his 1993 sentencing hearing, describing how and why he killed Joyce Yost.
Before Lovell started writing letters to the court complaining about his defense, his attorneys announced a motion was in the works seeking to suppress Lovell’s chilling 1993 testimony.
Lovell is still serving a term of 15 years to life for the 1985 rape of Yost, 39, of South Ogden. She disappeared that year, strangled by Lovell to prevent her from testifying about the rape, according to his own testimony at the 1993 sentencing hearing.
On Thursday, 2nd District Judge Michael Lyon set a March 15 deadline for filing the suppression motion, with oral arguments to follow April 19.
Public defender Sean Young also told the judge a motion is coming to seek a new preliminary hearing for Lovell. A preliminary hearing is a mini-trial meant to ensure evidence meets the minimum legal standard to advance the case to trial. Lovell was charged with Yost’s murder in 1992, but officials after Thursday’s hearing couldn’t recall when Lovell had his original preliminary hearing, in either 1992 or 1993.
Lovell, 54, left death row in July 2010 after almost 17 years, 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, saying Lovell was not explicitly told in open court he had a right to a public trial before an impartial jury.
Since August, Lovell has been writing letters to the court complaining about disagreements with his 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.
As Thursday’s hearing concluded, Lovell tried one more time to request Bouwhuis be taken off the case.
“Our issues are much more than a lack of communication,” he told the judge.
But Lyon again told him no, saying his complaints didn’t meet the legal standard needed to replace Bouwhuis with another public defender, and his only other option would be to act as his own defense attorney.
Bouwhuis and Young have declined to comment on Lovell’s concerns, citing attorney-client privilege.