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Ott Says He Didn't Try to Kill Girl, Just Her Father

Ott Says He Didn't Try to Kill Girl, Just Her Father

Posted - Apr. 2, 2004 at 8:04 a.m.



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FARMINGTON, Utah (AP) -- Mark Anthony Ott told jurors he did not intend to kill 6-year-old Lacey Paige Lawrence but did try to kill her father, Allen Lawrence.

After the defense rested its case Thursday, Ott gave a statement asking jurors to consider giving him a sentence that includes parole. He was not sworn in and was not questioned by attorneys.

"I did try to kill Allen Lawrence. I did stab Sarah (Gooch), my stepdaughter. I did set my house on fire," said Ott, who has pleaded guilty to aggravated murder, attempted aggravated murder, aggravated arson and aggravated assault, in Sept. 1, 2002, crimes in Layton.

"But I didn't know Lacey was in that house," he said.

The 12 jurors were to deliberate Friday. His plea bargain spared him a possible death sentence. Ten ore more jurors must agree to give Ott life without parole or he will be sentenced to life with the possibility of parole.

Ott said he doesn't sleep because he keeps thinking about the events of that night.

As the victims, their families and members of Ott's family wept silently, Ott continued, "After seeing the video of Lacey, I now understand how awful Terri Cook feels. I cannot change what happened."

Jurors saw a video of Lacey Lawrence's life Tuesday. Thursday, they heard an audiotape of an extradition hearing in Idaho when Ott was told for the first time who died. In that tape, Ott is heard sobbing when he hears a child has died.

Davis County Attorney Mel Wilson said Ott's apology "doesn't cut it."

"I didn't hear anything about Allen (Lawrence). I didn't hear anything about Sarah (Gooch). He continues to minimize his own conduct," Wilson said.

"His apology pales in comparison to the devastation he caused. Mr. Ott has received mercy. He has his life," Wilson said.

Caine said jurors must consider the mitigating factors in the case, such as Ott's childhood and his mental problems.

"Mark Ott did not have a childhood of nurturing. He had a childhood marked by violence. Does it excuse anything? No. Does it justify anything? No. Is it a mitigating factor? Yes," Caine said.

Jurors heard testimony earlier Thursday from Dr. David L. Egli, a psychiatrist from the Utah State Prison, that Ott had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Caine said if Ott had been correctly diagnosed earlier in his life, the tragedy may have been averted.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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