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Francisco Kjolseth, Pool, File

Death row inmate's case returns to trial court to argue whether attorney failed him

By McKenzie Romero | Posted - Mar. 11, 2017 at 4:19 p.m.



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OGDEN — The case of a man twice sentenced to death row for killing a woman prepared to testify he had raped her is being returned to district court as he argues his attorney didn't sufficiently defend him at trial.

In an order issued Wednesday, the Utah Supreme Court directed that part of Douglas Lovell's appeal be heard in 2nd District Court. Lovell claims that the attorney representing him in his 2015 trial, Sean Young, didn't sufficiently prepare witnesses to testify in the case, didn't call certain witnesses to testify and didn't adequately cross-examining another witness.

Lovell is also accusing his lawyer of failing to object when, at the sentencing portion of the trial, attorneys for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints advised that the bishops called to testify about their interactions in prison were restricted from addressing certain topics, including whether they believed Lovell was remorseful.

Lovell, 59, was found guilty three years ago of kidnapping and raping Joyce Yost in 1985, then killing her to silence her testimony. A jury sentenced him to die by lethal injection. At the time, Lovell's attorney, Michael Bouwhuis said that considering his age and the years it would take to appeal the conviction, Lovell didn't believe he would ultimately end up being executed.

Lovell first pleaded guilty to murdering the South Ogden woman in 1985 but was spared the death penalty on the condition that he lead authorities to her remains. When he failed to do so, he was sentenced to die in 1993.

The Utah Supreme Court allowed Lovell to withdraw his guilty plea in 2010 and the new trial was ordered.

Because a life sentence without parole was not a legal option when Yost was murdered in 1985, if the jury hadn't chosen the death penalty for Lovell, the only other option was life in prison with a possibility of parole.

No hearing dates had been scheduled as of Friday.

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