OGDEN, Utah -- For the second time, Doug Lovell has been sentenced to death for the 1985 murder of Joyce Yost.
After deliberating for about 11 hours, a jury handed down the death sentence against Lovell on Wednesday. As 2nd District Court Judge Michael DiReda read the verdict, jurors appeared to be visibly upset. Some looked like they were crying.
Lovell showed no emotion. Members of Yost's family cried and embraced as they left the courthouse.
"It’s just a very, very, very good day for Joyce," her son, Greg Roberts, told reporters. "And a good day for our family."
Kim Salazar, Yost's daughter, said she felt relieved -- not believing this day would ever come.
"The things that he did. Incredible, horrible things to do to somebody that he didn’t know. That didn’t deserve it. And to have such disregard for human life other than his own!" she cried.
Lovell killed Yost back in 1985 to prevent her from testifying against him for kidnapping and raping her. The day his original trial was to begin, he pleaded guilty and promised to lead police to her body, which he claimed was in Ogden Canyon.
Yost has never been found.
A judge sentenced Lovell to die, and he appealed. In 2011, the Utah Supreme Court ruled he had not been properly advised of his trial rights and overturned his conviction. He went on trial all over again, but did not contest his guilt.
"I’m going to sentence you to death by lethal injection. Your execution is ordered to be carried out in not less than 30 days," Judge DiReda told him on Wednesday after the jury handed down the verdict.
However, the sentence was immediately stayed pending appeals.
"I don’t believe he ever will be executed," Lovell's attorney, Michael Bouwhuis, told FOX 13 outside of court.
Bouwhuis noted that with years of state and federal appeals pending, it could be decades before the 57-year-old inmate would ever be put to death. The jury could only choose between life with parole and the death penalty.
"I suspect that what they (prosecutors) really wanted to do was make sure he never got out. Now they may say publicly they hope he gets executed, but if everybody’s candid they know he won’t be," he said.
While Lovell may have been sentenced to death by lethal injection, the reality is the Utah Department of Corrections lacks the proper drugs to carry out such an execution. Under a new law signed by Governor Gary Herbert, the firing squad becomes the backup method of execution.
Jurors left the courthouse under heavy security and declined to talk to FOX 13 about their verdict.