Mark Anthony Ott, the man who killed a 6-year-old child after he set fire to his estranged wife's Layton home 10 years ago, resolved a lengthy legal battle Wednesday by pleading guilty to first-degree felony murder.
Second District Judge Michael Allphin sentenced Ott to five years to life at the Utah State Prison for the homicide.
Ott, 48, had been serving life without the possibility of parole before the Utah Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that he could have a new sentencing hearing.
Defense attorney Rich Gallegos called Wednesday's negotiated settlement a fair one because it provides closure for the victims, moots all unresolved legal issues and gives Ott hope that he might someday be paroled.Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings said that in speaking with the victims and Layton City Police, they also believed this resolution was fair and provided closure.
"This was the best resolution at this point," Rawlings said. "At this point, the objective is achieved, and that objective will be that Mark Ott will serve the remainder of his life and die in state prison. We are confident that will happen."
Ott's fate is now up to the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole.
Ott also pleaded guilty Wednesday to three charges that were dismissed as part of a 2004 plea deal: first-degree felony aggravated burglary, second-degree felony theft and class A misdemeanor violation of a protective order.
He was sentenced to five years to life on the burglary count, one to 15 years for theft and one year for the protective order charge.
The judge ordered Ott to serve all the sentences consecutively to each other and to three related convictions for which he was still serving prison time: first-degree felony counts of attempted aggravated murder and aggravated arson, and second-degree felony aggravated assault.
In the early morning hours of Sept. 1, 2002, Ott cut the phone lines at Donna Ott's home, where she and five others were sleeping. He broke down the back door, ran to his wife's bedroom and began stabbing Donna Ott's boyfriend, Allen Lawrence.
When Ott's stepdaughter, Sarah Gooch, tried to help, he stabbed her, too. He then poured gasoline inside the home and ignited it. Everyone in the home escaped except Allen Lawrence's daughter, Lacey.
Ott claimed at his 2004 sentencing hearing that he never intended to hurt anyone despite having stopped at an all-night grocery store to buy a knife, Coleman fuel and Bic lighters.
Ott specifically denied intentionally killing Lacey Lawrence, insisting he did not even know she was staying at the home that night.
To escape the possibility of the death penalty, Ott in 2004 entered an Alford plea to aggravated murder, meaning he admitted only that there was sufficient evidence to convict him.
Six years later, the Utah Supreme Court ruled Ott deserved a new sentencing hearing after finding his court-appointed defense lawyer was ineffective for failing to object to victim-impact evidence, including a six-minute videotape featuring pictures of Lacey Lawrence.
On Wednesday, Ott apologized, took responsibility for his crimes and even turned toward victim family members and said he was sorry, Gallegos said.