Tonya Papanikolas ReportingSince Mark Hacking's hearing on Friday a lot of people have been questioning how long Hacking will spend in prison. The minimum he could serve would be six years, the maximum life.
If you look at Utah's parole statistics it seems unlikely Hacking would be on either extreme end of the spectrum. Of course, it depends on a lot of different things. Based on the charges he has faced since last summer, Mark Hacking had no possibility of receiving the death penalty or life in prison without parole. Both of those punishments accompany aggravated or capitol murder. But prosecutors didn't have enough evidence for that charge.
Robert Stott, Prosecutor: “To be charged with aggravated murder, a murder has to be committed intentionally, under certain specified circumstances. There were no aggravating circumstances existing."
For example, they couldn't prove Mark had killed two people because there was no conclusive proof Lori had been pregnant. So they went after murder, which carries five years to life. But the prosecution says don't expect him to serve the short end of that scale.
Bob Stott: “I think it would be almost impossible he would get only six years. He will get many, many, many years."
The Board of Pardons will decide how long Hacking will spend in prison. Numbers are hard to predict, but take a look at the statistics. Up until August, the Board of Pardons had 209 people serving time for first degree murder. Forty-five-percent of them are still awaiting their hearing. Twenty-six-percent were denied parole at their first hearing and have another scheduled in the future.
Less than 4-percent will be in prison for life, the remaining 24-percent have been granted parole. The average time served before they were released is 20-years. The board says each case is different; they take a lot of factors into account.
Michael R. Sibbett: Was this a premeditated act? Was there obstruction of justice? Are they working? Are they trying to better themselves? Do they accept responsibility for the crimes they're in prison on?"
Interestingly, the Board of Pardons told me they look over all elements of the crime, whether or not the defendant was charged. So they could possibly note that Hacking obstructed justice, even though those charges against him were dropped. But at the same time, by admitting his guilt he also took responsibility for his actions.