SALT LAKE CITY – Mark Hacking (search), charged with shooting his wife in the head and throwing her body into a trash bin, showed up in a heavily guarded courtroom Monday wearing a bulletproof vest.
Hacking, dressed in yellow jail garb and orange sneakers, said nothing as the judge scheduled a preliminary hearing for Sept. 23.
Hacking's first in-person court appearance came after police marked their 12th night searching a county landfill without finding her body or .22-caliber firearm.
Hacking reported his wife missing July 19, setting off a weeklong community search involving thousands of volunteers.
His lawyer, D. Gilbert Athay (search), told 3rd District Judge William Barrett that police were turning over evidence needed by the defense to prepare for the preliminary hearing.
Athay and deputy district attorney Robert Stott said there have been no discussions of a plea bargain. Hacking hasn't had to enter a plea yet; that will come sometime after his preliminary hearing.
Hacking, 28, is accused of killing Lori Hacking (search), 27, while she slept and dumping her body in a trash bin, according to his confession to brothers who visited him at a psychiatric ward where he was kept for 13 days after his wife's disappearance.
Authorities believe Lori Hacking was killed after confronting her husband over his deceptions about his college education and plans to become a doctor. The couple were packing to move to a medical school in North Carolina where, she had apparently just discovered, he wasn't enrolled.
Stott said he was prepared to prosecute Hacking for murder even without a body or weapon. Hacking also has been charged with obstructing justice for throwing Lori's body, the gun and a bloody mattress in separate trash bins.
"We filed the case knowing the body may not be found, so we are going to proceed," Stott told reporters.
Asked about any plea negotiations, Athay said outside court, "We're not even going there."
He didn't elaborate.
Hacking, guarded by several armed deputies, had a puzzled look when he entered the packed courtroom. There were no members of his or his wife's family in the courtroom, and the proceeding was over in minutes. Reporters took up most of the courtroom seating.
Police have seized surveillance equipment from the psychiatric hospital where Hacking worked as an orderly and the convenience store where he was seen twice the night his wife presumably died.
Stott declined to say whether a digital recorder taken from University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute (search) shows a body being dumped in a trash bin under cover of darkness.
"I think you need to come to the preliminary hearing," Stott told reporters.
Court files released Friday says the hospital trash bin was under video surveillance, which showed "an object" was dumped there. The document, however, didn't reveal what the object was or who was seen dumping it.