Defense Attorney Says Lovell's Best Chance was Pleading Guilty

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OGDEN, Utah (AP) -- Defense attorney John Caine has testified that he felt Douglas Lovell had no chance of escaping the death penalty if his sentence were determined by a jury and that it was wiser to let a judge decide his fate.

Lovell pleaded guilty to capital homicide 12 years ago and the judge sentenced him to death.

He is asking to be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea.

Lovell was accused of kidnapping and killing Joyce Yost, 39, to keep her from testifying that he had raped.

"It was an ugly case," Caine told 2nd District Judge Michael Lyon on Tuesday. Testimony is being heard on the case at the request of The Utah Supreme Court.

Lovell, 47, claims he really wanted a jury to sentence him, but that Caine essentially promised him that then-2nd District Judge Stanton Taylor would never impose the death penalty.

Caine testified Tuesday he advised Lovell that "in my professional opinion, (the judge) would not impose the death penalty. And, conversely, I was sure a jury would (impose death).

Caine, who has handled about three dozen capital cases during his 30-year career, said he believed Lovell might get a measure of mercy from the judge, especially considering Lovell's apparent efforts to lead police to Yost's body, which was never found.

Lovell allegedly raped Yost in April 1985, after following the South Ogden woman home from a club.

She testified against him at a June 1985 preliminary hearing. But before a trial was held, she allegedly was kidnapped, driven into the mountains east of Ogden, strangled and buried in a shallow grave.

Prosecutors convicted Lovell of raping Yost by using her preliminary hearing testimony.

In 1991, Lovell's confession to the killing was taped when his recently divorced wife wore a recording device while visiting him at the Utah State Prison.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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