SALT LAKE CITY – A man who admitted shooting his wife in the head while she slept was sentenced to six years to life in prison Monday, bringing to a close the case of murder and deceit that shocked Utah last July.
Judge Denise Lindberg handed Mark Hacking (search) his sentence — the only penalty allowed by Utah state law — after hearing emotional statements from the family of his murdered wife Lori. She added that it would be a long time before she would recommend his release to the parole board.
Mark Hacking, 29, had confessed to dumping his wife in the trash after murdering her. Authorities believe he killed Lori after she discovered he had lied about being admitted to medical school.
On Monday, Hacking said he had no excuse for his behavior and that he was willing to spend an eternity in jail if it was possible to amend for his crime.
"She didn't do nothing but love me unconditionally, even when I didn't deserve it. She was the greatest thing that ever happened to me, but I killed her, and took the life of my unborn child and put them in the garbage and I can't explain whey I did it," Hacking said in a halted voice when addressing the judge and family members.
"I put them in the garbage, and they rotted out at the landfill. I'm tormented every waking minute by what I did," he said.
An autopsy of the badly decomposed body could not confirm that Lori Hacking was pregnant, as she had told friends, leaving the state unable to seek the death penalty. Prosecutor Robert Stott said that left insufficient proof for such a charge.
Lori Hacking's (search) mother, 67-year-old Thelma Soares, said she felt "shattered and betrayed to the very core. After nearly a year, I can't accept the fact that after shooting her in the head, Mark dumped Lori in the trash."
Lori Hacking's body was found three months later at a landfill. Soares said she was only able to bury 15 pounds of bone fragments and teeth from her 115-pound daughter.
"How could you do that, Mark? How could you do that?" Soares asked Hacking during the hearing.
"I'm sorry," he replied.
The couple were packing for a move to a North Carolina school when Lori Hacking is believed to have found out about the lies about Mark's enrollment. Her co-workers at a Wells Fargo brokerage say she broke down sobbing after making calls to school administrators in North Carolina who, according to police affidavits, told her Mark Hacking was not enrolled there.
The affidavits say the couple argued after she confronted him July 18. After Lori went to bed, Mark Hacking stayed up late playing video games for an hour. Then, sorting through his belongings, he found his rifle, went into the bedroom and shot his wife, according to investigators.
He disposed of her body, the rifle and mattress in separate trash bins. And the next morning, he found time to shop for a new mattress while reporting his wife had not returned from an early morning jog.
Lori's car was found at a downtown park, its seat and mirrors adjusted for a large man, police determined. Thousands of volunteers turned out for days helping search for her before he indicated to family members there was no reason to continue the search.
In April, Hacking pleaded guilty to first-degree murder with a brief admission: "I intentionally shot Lori Hacking in the head with a .22 rifle on July 19, 2004."
Under Utah's system of indeterminate criminal sentences, first-degree murder brings a mandatory five years to life, but Hacking's minimum will be increased to six years because he used a firearm. The judge can only impose the broad range of sentence, leaving it up to Utah's Board of Pardons and Parole to decide when or if Hacking will ever be set free.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.