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Inmate asks judge to toss out confession

Published: Monday, May 6 2013 11:16 p.m. MDT

OGDEN — Lawyers for former Utah death row inmate Doug Lovell are asking a judge to throw out his previous sworn testimony about how and why he strangled a South Ogden woman in 1985.

Lovell was sentenced to death in 1993 for the killing of Joyce Yost.

But the Utah Supreme Court later allowed him to withdraw his earlier guilty plea, ruling in 2010 that he had not been explicitly told out loud in open court that he had a right to a public trial before an impartial jury. His new trial is set for February 2014.

The Standard-Examiner reports that after oral arguments, Ogden 2nd District Judge Michael Lyon said he'd take the matter of the confession under advisement and issue a written decision at a future time.

Lovell's lawyers argue his admissions were made as part of an attempt to gain leniency and avoid receiving the death penalty.

Deputy Weber County Attorney Gary Heward counters that Lovell did not have to take the stand and describe the killing as he did, but he did so voluntarily.

Heward's reply motion quotes the transcript from Lovell's hearing on June 28, 1993, when he pleaded guilty, saying he wanted to "come clean" and get the case behind him.

Lovell went into extensive detail on the killing, even noting he returned to where he hid Yost's body in Ogden Canyon so he could take her jewelry and pawn it.

In Lovell's 1993 plea bargain, prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty if Lovell could lead investigators to Yost's remains in Ogden Canyon. When a five-week search led by a handcuffed Lovell failed to find anything, the Weber County Attorney's Office asked for and received the death penalty.

Lovell killed Yost to keep her from testifying about his raping her in 1985. Despite her disappearance, he was convicted at trial based in part on the transcript of Yost's preliminary hearing testimony on the rape.

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