OGDEN — Douglas Anderson Lovell is heading back to Utah's death row.
But the now-twice-convicted killer doesn't believe he'll ever be executed, and based on his age and anticipated years of additional appeals he may be right.
The 57-year-old, who kidnapped and raped a South Ogden woman 30 years ago, then killed her to silence her, showed little emotion as his death sentence was announced Wednesday, clasping his hands and shaking his head as he spoke with his attorneys.
Second District Judge Michael DiReda ordered Lovell to die by lethal injection on May 29. That date was immediately stayed while the killer automatically begins another round of legal appeals expected to take many years.
An emotional nine-man, three-woman jury reached the decision Wednesday that Lovell should die, after members deliberates for 11 hours. One male juror put his head in his hands and cried as verdict forms were read in the courtroom. None of the jury members chose to speak publicly following the trial.
Lovell is no stranger to facing death. The Clearfield man was sentenced to die for the same crimes in 1993. He spent 17 years on death row after he pleaded guilty to the brutal 1985 murder of Joyce Yost.
After years of appeals, the Utah Supreme Court allowed Lovell to withdraw that guilty plea in 2010, and a new trial was ordered. The same jurors who sentenced him to die Wednesday determined last month that he was guilty of kidnapping Yost from her South Ogden home and then murdering her.
"This is a very, very good day for Joyce and a good day for our family," Yost's son, Greg Roberts, said of the jury's decision.
A determined family
Two generations of Yost's family gathered with her two children to hear the verdict. Among them were spouses and grandchildren with little or no memory of Yost, outside of stories family members have shared and pictures that hang in their homes.
They wept together Wednesday as they celebrated the verdict and a day they said they thought would never come. But they also acknowledged that it was a painful decision for the jury.
"It's our justice system, and it may be slow in these capital murder cases, but so far it's been right the whole way, and we appreciate it," Roberts said.
Kim Salazar, Yost's daughter, reiterated her long-held belief that the crimes committed against her mother warrant a death sentence.
"The things that he did — incredible, horrible things to do to someone that he didn't know, that didn't deserve it — and then to have such disregard to human life other than his own," she said.
When two attempts to hire others to kill Yost failed, Lovell climbed into an unlocked window at Yost's home and forced the woman to pack a bag so that it would appear she had left town. He then drugged her so she would be too disoriented to call for help and drove her to Ogden Canyon, where he choked her, stomped on her neck and buried her in leaves. He returned later to bury her body.
Yost's body was never found, and without the chance to bury and mourn her, her family will never truly have closure, Salazar said.
The family remains committed to the case despite years of previous appeals and appeals that lie ahead, Salazar said.
"It's been going on for 23 years. I know the path, I know it well," she said. "I'm determined."
Gambling with his life
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.
Jurors could have had the option of imposing a sentence of life in prison without parole had Lovell granted permission. But Lovell asked that it not be, defense attorney Michael Bouwhuis said.
"It was a gamble," Bouwhuis said.
Until the verdict came down Wednesday, Lovell had held to the hope that he might someday be released from prison, Bouwhuis said. Now, however, he knows better.
"If he got life without parole, then from his perspective there was no hope of ever getting out," he said. "Regardless of whether people agree with it, he felt he had done enough over the past 30 years to have that chance at some point."
Ultimately, Lovell doesn't believe he will ever be executed, in light of the years of appeals he faces, as well as the growing debate against capital punishment, Bouwhuis said.
He believes that the jury opted for the death sentence out of concern that Lovell might one day be paroled.
The Utah Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that a judge did not fully inform Lovell about some of his rights when he entered into a plea bargain in 1993. The deal was designed to help him avoid the death penalty so long as he revealed where he had buried Yost. But an exhaustive search of the mountains east of Ogden failed to identify any evidence of Yost's remains, and a judge subsequently sentenced Lovell to die.
The case for death
Lovell's attorneys made it clear over the past few weeks they were not arguing Lovell's innocence in the trial, only that he should not be sentenced to die. Bouwhuis insisted that Lovell had, in fact, attempted to cooperate with investigators in the search for Yost's body.
"The fact of the matter is Doug Lovell didn't want to die," Bouwhuis said. "Clearly, he still doesn't want to die."
Bouwhuis also attempted to cast aspersions on Rhonda Butters, Lovell's ex-wife and a co-conspirator in the murder, highlighting the disparity between a death sentence for this client and no punishment for Butters. It was Butters who visited Lovell in prison in the early '90s in order to secretly record his confession for prosecutors, winning her immunity.
Prosecutors, however, highlighted the brutality of Lovell's crimes, which he committed alone. The killing wasn't just an attack on Yost, already the victim of a brutal crime, it assailed the foundations of the criminal justice system, they said.
"His motive was to save himself, at the expense of all else, at the expense of Joyce Yost, her family and the justice system," deputy Weber County attorney Christopher Shaw told jurors during closing arguments Tuesday.
The justice system had failed Yost once, he said, asking jurors: "Don't let it happen again."
As part of their verdict, jurors also determined that Lovell was guilty of five additional crimes that he was never charged for: aggravated sexual assault, forcible sodomy, witness tampering and two counts of conspiracy to commit murder.
Utah's death row
Lovell joins eight other men on Utah's death row:
• Ralph Leroy Menzies: Sentenced in 1988, for the kidnapping and strangulation of a Kearns woman in 1986. He has selected death by firing squad. Menzies testified during Lovell's trial of his interactions with him in prison.
• Douglas Stewart Carter: Convicted in 1985 of stabbing the aunt of a former Provo police chief multiple times and shooting her in the head during a robbery earlier that year.
• Michael Anthony Archuleta: Condemned in 1989 for raping and torturing to death a gay Southern Utah University student in 1988.
• Von Lester Taylor: Sentenced in 1991 for breaking into a cabin in Summit County in 1990 and killing a woman and her mother. The woman's husband was seriously wounded. Taylor then kidnapped the couple's two daughters before setting the cabin on fire and fleeing.
• Ron Lafferty: Sentenced to die for the murders of his brother's wife and her 15-month-old daughter in 1984. His original sentence was overturned, but he again received the death sentence in 1996 and has chosen to die by firing squad.
• Troy Michael Kell: Sentenced in 1996, he was a white separatist and an inmate in Utah's Gunnison prison when he stabbed a black inmate 67 times with a crude knife in 1994. He has chosen to die by firing squad.
• Taberon Dave Honie: Sentenced in 1999 to die for sexually assaulting and slashing the throat in the murder of his ex-girlfriend's mother in 1998 in Cedar City. He wants to die by firing squad.
• Floyd Eugene Maestas: Sentenced to die in 2008 for strangling and stabbing a 75-year-old Salt Lake woman during a burglary. He was intent on stealing property to sell for liquor.
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