Lovell prepares to face murder trial in Ogden - again

Jul 13 2011 - 11:50pm

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Doug Lovell
Doug Lovell

OGDEN -- Some 26 years later, Doug Lovell is coming back to Ogden to face trial for a murder for which he was once sentenced to death.

The formal paperwork is coming back to 2nd District Court from the Utah Supreme Court this week on Lovell's successful appeal last year that allowed him to withdraw his guilty plea to capital murder.

The high court Tuesday announced as much, publishing long-awaited clarifying language to its July 27, 2010, decision on Lovell's guilty plea.

Lovell's coming trial will be highlighted by his own sworn testimony from 1993.

He took the stand at his sentencing hearing then to describe how and why he killed 39-year-old Joyce Yost, of South Ogden, in 1985.

The case remittitur, as the official document is called, would officially transfer jurisdiction over Lovell from the Utah Supreme Court back to Ogden's 2nd District Court.

Officials said the remittitur should be received by 2nd District Judge Michael Lyon as soon as today. The Utah Attorney General's Office received its copy Wednesday.

The first order of business will be scheduling a status conference to deal with the selection process for Lovell's public defenders.

Lovell killed Yost to prevent her from testifying to his rape of her earlier that year. Convicted of the rape despite the absence of Yost, he was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. He wasn't charged with Yost's murder until 1992.

Lovell spent five weeks trying to lead authorities to where he said he buried her in Ogden Valley. Prosecutors were willing to forgo execution if Lovell could produce the body.

When her remains were not found, the Weber County Attorney's Office asked for and received the death penalty for Lovell from now retired 2nd District Judge Stanton Taylor.

But last July the justices ruled Taylor, in taking Lovell's guilty plea in 1993, erred in not informing him specifically in open court that he had the right to trial before an impartial jury bound by the presumption of innocence. The court also ruled that new rules of evidence introduced in 2005 calling such omissions harmless error could not be applied retroactively to Lovell.

The high court ruled that Taylor's omissions regarding the guilty plea tread on Lovell's rights despite the fact Lovell, now 53, was a veteran of the judicial system who had been in and out of prison since he was 19.

Lovell is still serving in Utah State Prison the 15 years to life sentence for the rape conviction.

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