- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 1, 2015

OGDEN, Utah (AP) - A Utah jury sentenced a man to death for the second time in a 30-year-old murder case Wednesday, making him the ninth person on the state’s death row.

Under a law passed last week, Douglas Lovell could be executed by firing squad if authorities can’t get lethal injection drugs 30 days before an execution date. That could be harder after a leading association for U.S. pharmacists officially discouraged its members from providing lethal drugs on Monday.

Lovell is the first person sentenced to death since the Utah legislature approved using the firing squad as a backup execution method, though Wednesday’s verdict will re-start a lengthy appeals process and put a possible execution date years in the future. Lovell, 57, went to trial for the second time in March after the Utah Supreme Court allowed him to withdraw a 1993 guilty plea that gave him his first death sentence.

The Ogden jury of nine men and three women deliberated for about 11 hours before reaching the verdict in the sentencing phase of the trial. Some were crying when the verdict was read, said Greg Roberts, the son of victim Joyce Yost. “We know it was hard for the jury to make the decision they had to make,” he said.

Yost’s daughter, Kim Salazar, said Wednesday that she was pleased with the verdict.

“It’s what needed to happen,” she said, though she expects the appeals process set to begin again to be painful. The possibility of Lovell getting the firing squad doesn’t change much for her. “It’s a means to an end,” Salazar said.

Prosecutors say Lovell stalked Yost to her driveway and raped her in 1985, then spent four months plotting to kill her to prevent her from testifying against him. Lovell broke into her home with a knife after his plans to hire a hit man fell through, prosecutor Gary Heward said during the trial.

Lovell ignored her begging, drugged her and drove her to Ogden Canyon, where he strangled her, stomped on her neck and buried her in leaves, Heward said.

Defense attorney Michael Bouwhuis said Lovell was disappointed with the verdict, but he took the news relatively well. He plans to appeal, Bouwhuis said.

“I think he had a hope he would get out,” he said. Lovell chose not to give the jury the option of life without the possibility of parole, he said.

Jurors declined to speak with reporters as they left the courthouse Wednesday.

During the trial, Bouwhuis didn’t try to argue that his client was innocent and was convicted of aggravated murder for the second time last month. Bouwhuis instead argued he shouldn’t be put to death, pointing to his good prison record.

Lovell was convicted of raping Yost when prosecutors used her testimony from a preliminary hearing. He was serving 15 years to life when prosecutors say he twice acknowledged his role in the killing in recorded prison conversations with his ex-wife, who was secretly working with police.

Lovell pleaded guilty to killing Yost in 1993 to avoid the death penalty, but a judge imposed it anyway after Lovell couldn’t fulfill a condition of the plea deal to help investigators find the body of Yost. He cooperated, but the body was never found.

The Utah Supreme Court allowed him to withdraw his guilty plea in 2010, ruling Lovell wasn’t informed of his right to a presumption of innocence and a public trial.


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