Douglas Lovell – white, age 27 (re-sentence)

Sentenced to death in Weber County, Utah
By: jury
Date of crime: 1985
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Lovell was sentenced to death in 1993. Lovell tried to hire people to kill Joyce Yost twice, but when that failed, he climbed into a window at her home. He told her to pack a bag to give the appearance that she left town and then he drugged her. He drove her to Ogden Canyon where he chocked her, stomped on her neck, and buried her in leaves. Later he returned and buried her body, but the body was never recovered. He pleaded guilty to killing Yost in 1985 and then spent 17 years on death row. Lovell only pleaded because he was told that prosecutors would not push for the death penalty if he told them about the location of Yost’s body. Lovell stated it was somewhere up in Ogden Canyon, but the body still was not found. The judge found that Lovell did not hold up his end of the bargain and sentenced him to die by lethal injection. Lovell appealed and in 2010 the Utah Supreme Court allowed him to withdraw his guilty plea and a new trial was ordered. At the time of Lovell’s first conviction, life in prison without parole was not a legal option, however, at the second trial, Lovell did not grant permission to allow life in prison without parole as an option. The defense attorneys made it clear that they were not arguing about Lovell’s innocence, just that he should not receive the death sentence. One defense attorney insisted that Lovell attempted to cooperate with the investigation for Yost’s body. The attorney also pointed to Lovell’s ex-wife and co-conspirator in the murder, Rhonda Butters, who received no punishment for the crime at all to show how unfair the death sentence would be. The reason Butters received no punishment was because she secretly taped a conversation where Lovell confessed so that she could receive immunity since she had driven him to the scene of the murder and helped him burn evidence. The prosecutors insisted that Lovell committed the crime alone and stated his motive was to save himself so that Yost could not testify that he had kidnapped and raped her.
Sources: Deseret Morning News 4/2/15 (2015 WLNR 9652941), Deseret Morning News 3/21/15 (2015 WLNR 8402696)