FARMINGTON — Mark Anthony Ott pleaded guilty to first-degree felony murder in the case of the death of 6-year-old Lacey Paige Lawrence, which happened 10 years ago.
Ott, 48, entered the guilty plea Wednesday before Judge Michael G. Allphin in 2nd District Court on Wednesday.
In exchange for the guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to allow Ott to withdraw the Alford plea he entered in on March 16, 2004, to an aggravated murder charge. In an Alford Plea, the criminal defendant does not admit the act, but admits that the prosecution could likely prove the charge.
A 12-member jury on April 2, 2004, after a week of testimony from those involved, including Lacey’s parents, spent seven hours deliberating before sentencing Ott to life without parole, In January of 2010, the Utah Supreme Court overturned Ott’s sentence of life without parole on the murder charge and sent the case back to the 2nd District Court for another sentencing hearing.
This year, Ott’s attorneys filed a motion that asked the judge to withdraw all of Ott’s guilty pleas to other charges in connection with the case.
Prosecutors and the defense attorneys came to an agreement and Ott entered the guilty plea to the first-degree felony murder charge on Wednesday.
He also pleaded guilty to three additional charges: first-degree felony burglary, second-degree felony theft and violation of a protective order, a class A misdemeanor. Those charges had been dropped in 2004.
Ott also withdrew his motion to withdraw his guilty pleas to first-degree felony attempted murder, first-degree felony aggravated arson and second-degree felony aggravated assault, which he is currently serving sentences at the Utah State Prison.
Allphin also sentenced Ott on Wednesday for the new convictions.
Allphin sentenced Ott to serve two sentences of five years to life at the prison for the murder conviction and the burglary conviction. He also sentenced Ott to serve one year to 15 years for the theft conviction and one year for the violation of a protective order. All the sentences are to run consecutively with each other and with Ott’s other sentences.
Lacey died Sept. 1, 2002, in a house fire started by Ott at the Layton home of his estranged wife, Donna Ott. The two have since divorced. She had filed for divorce in June 2002 and had a protective order against Mark Ott.
Lacey was the only child of Terri Cook and Allen Lawrence.
Allen Lawrence and Donna Ott were dating at the time, and Lawrence and Lacey ended up at Donna’s home for the night.
In the early morning, Mark Ott entered the home and stabbed Allen Lawrence multiple times. He then stabbed Sarah Gooch, Donna Ott’s then-17-year-old daughter, as she tried to save Lawrence’s life.
Six people were staying in the house for the night. Everyone escaped the burning home, except Lacey, who was alone in a bedroom.