PRESTON — With no evidence to back up his claim, Marlin McQueen claimed his victim wanted to be killed.
The judge didn’t buy it.
McQueen, 35, murdered 31-year-old Wilden “Willie” Lovin Jr. on Jan. 26, by stabbing him 25 times. McQueen was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison during an emotional sentencing hearing Thursday. He had pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Aug. 22, as part of a plea agreement, which reduced the first-degree murder charge.
“This particular crime seems to have no explanation, no motivation, other than what I’ll describe as a somewhat outlandish, incomprehensible and unbelievable statement about why Mr. McQueen committed the crime that he committed,” District Judge Mitchell Brown said during Thursday’s sentencing.
But McQueen stood by his story.
The hearing revealed that after hours of interrogation, McQueen told investigators Lovin had allegedly confessed to McQueen that he had molested and murdered two little girls in Roy, Utah. After the alleged confession, McQueen said the victim asked McQueen to kill him.
McQueen said he left Lovin’s home, where he was also living, and walked out to his car. That’s when McQueen saw his buck knife and decided he was going to “fulfill his request.”
He told the psychological evaluator, “Preston is a better place without that man.”
Franklin County Chief Deputy Karen Hatch was called to testify to the validity of McQueen’s claims. Hatch was one of the deputies who investigated the murder scene. She said it was the worst she had ever encountered. In her report, she described a tremendous amount of blood in the bathroom.
McQueen first described to investigators the things Lovin allegedly told him happened in Utah. Hatch provided that information to law enforcement at the local, state, federal and tribal levels in Utah. None of the jurisdictions had any cases matching McQueen’s description.
McQueen then clarified that it was in Roy, Utah. Hatch reached out to law enforcement in Roy. They also told Hatch they had no cases matching McQueen’s description.
“You found no validity to that accusation?” Franklin County Prosecutor Vic Pearson asked Hatch.
“No,” Hatch said.
In his statements, Brown said he felt like he needed to address the claims McQueen made about his victim and say, even if they were true, McQueen’s actions were still unjustifiable.
“I want (the victim’s family) to understand that I in no way, shape or form find there to be any basis in what I perceive to be baseless allegations,” Brown said.
During the sentencing, Lovin’s mother described her son as a people collector. She said once someone was in his circle, they became a member of his family. She talked about how Lovin let McQueen stay with him and even provided a safe place for McQueen’s son. She said Lovin wanted nothing more than to have a family of his own someday.
“He loved to hold new babies and see their innocent little faces — play with their perfect little fingers and toes and just love them in general. He loved teaching his nephews how to work on vehicles, build model cars, throw a football around or join them in the sandbox and play with the Tonka trucks and Matchbox cars,” Lovin’s mother said in her victim impact statement.
She told the court she wanted McQueen to be given a fixed life sentence without the chance of parole. Lovin’s mother said she doesn’t want him ever to have the opportunity to hurt someone again.
“In reality, no matter what is decided, we will never get Willie back,” she said. “True justice is impossible.”
In his statements to the court, McQueen stood by his claims about Lovin.
“I know what I have done is not the correct result of what Willie Lovin told me. He didn’t deserve to die in that manner,” McQueen said.
During his rambling statement, McQueen expressed concern multiple times about the number of stab wounds. He said he only remembered stabbing Lovin five times.
“That’s just odd to me,” McQueen said. “I’m not saying somebody else had done this, but he had to receive 20 stab wounds from someplace.”
Brown said in talking to the presentencing investigators, psychological evaluators, law enforcement and everyone else involved, McQueen has not expressed sorrow for murdering Lovin.
“There’s been absolutely no remorse,” Brown said. “There’s been justification, cowardly justification in my mind, suggesting that the victim asked for this crime to be perpetrated on him.”
During the hearing, McQueen never apologized for killing Lovin. He said he wished he could say he hadn’t done it and instead had gone to the police with what Lovin allegedly confessed to him.
“I guess, at the end of the day, somebody’s got to be the monster,” McQueen said. “I guess that’s going to be me.”