FARMINGTON -- Mark Anthony Ott's attorneys want to make sure he is aware of the consequences that will likely arise if Ott decides he wants to withdraw his guilty plea in the death of 6-year-old Lacey Paige Lawrence nine years ago.
Ott has until Aug. 8 to make up his mind.
Ott appeared before Judge Michael C. Alphin on Monday in 2nd District Court during a status conference hearing. Ott's attorneys asked for more time to make sure Ott fully understands what will happen if he goes back to trial.
"We're trying to ensure that he is criminally responsible for the acts he did without him being overcharged," said Rudy Bautista, one of Ott's attorneys.
Ott is serving life without parole in Utah State Prison after pleading guilty to aggravated murder on March 16, 2004. When Ott made the plea, prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty. That decision may change if Ott withdraws the plea.
In January 2010, the Utah Supreme Court overturned Ott's sentence for aggravated murder and sent the case back to 2nd District Court.
Davis County District Attorney Troy Rawlings said the state will have the option of putting the death penalty back on the table if Ott withdraws his plea. Rawlings said he has had significant discussions with the victims, as well as the attorney general's office, about the possibility of seeking the death penalty for Ott.
"Before I announce a decision publicly, I want to make sure the victims are on board and the attorney general's office is on board," Rawlings said.
Lacey died Sept. 1, 2002, in a house fire started by Ott at the Layton home of his estranged wife. Ott is also serving several other sentences in connection with the house fire and assaults that occurred at the same time.
Some of those victims and family of the victims were in the courtroom Monday, and they met with Rawlings following the hearing. Rawlings said it is difficult for the victims in this type of case.
"I tell them that what we're doing now is important, but the bottom line is (Ott) is still in prison and will likely die in prison," Rawlings said.
Rawlings said the state would be fine with the Aug. 8 date in court, as long as the defense is not allowed to ask for more continuances.