OGDEN -- Public defenders for former death row inmate Doug Lovell want him to talk to a forensic psychiatrist.
Charged in a 1985 murder, Lovell's case is unique in that he pleaded guilty to the charges in 1993. He also described the murder of Joyce Yost, of South Ogden, in detail in sworn testimony from the stand at his sentencing hearing, where he was ordered to face execution.
After years of appeals, the case was sent back to Ogden by the Utah Supreme Court in 2010 over flaws in the entering of his guilty pleas 20 years ago.
Psychological evaluations are common in murder cases, typically done early on. It wasn't clear if Lovell has ever had one in the Yost case.
Officials could not comment on the defense request just filed in 2nd District Court because the motion is sealed by court order. As is the Weber County Attorney's Office response to the defense request for funding of a forensic psychiatrist.
Mike Bouwhuis, Lovell's lead counsel, said he couldn't even say if the request goes to Lovell's current state of mind or his mental status in the past.
"I can't talk about the motion at the risk of it becoming unsealed," he said. "There are potential problems if I talk about it more than I already have."
The law allows public defenders to keep their investigations confidential prior to trial. The County Attorney's Office reviews public defenders' requests of county funds in that office's role as the county's legal counsel.
But that review is done by the civil section of the office, run by Deputy Weber County Attorney Dave Wilson, and is kept separate from the prosecutors' side of the office.
Wilson also said he couldn't talk about the sealed motions.
"The motion we filed in response doesn't mean we necessarily oppose it," he said. "Sometimes we're just asking for a clarification."
A hearing on the motion has not yet been set. Hearings on sealed defense motions are typically closed to the public as well as prosecutors.
Lovell is currently serving a 15-years-to-life sentence for Yost's rape, the murder having been committed in an attempt to keep her from testifying to the rape, as he has admitted in open court.
His trial on the aggravated murder charge, for which he potentially faces the death penalty, is set to begin Feb. 3 and run through the entire month.
Contact reporter Tim Gurrister at 801-625-4238 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tgurrister.