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Jury Hears Testimony in Capital Murder Case

Jury Hears Testimony in Capital Murder Case



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FARMINGTON, Utah (AP) -- Defying a court order, Mark Anthony Ott entered the home of his estranged wife and he had murder in his heart, prosecutors told the jury that will determine Ott's sentence.

Before he was done, Ott had stabbed two people and set fire to the home, resulting in the death of 6-year-old Lacey Paige Lawrence.

Ott pleaded guilty to aggravated murder in the Sept. 1, 2002, death in a deal that spares him a possible death sentence.

The only other penalties provided for aggravated murder are life in prison with or without the possibility of parole. A jury that will decide which sentence he receives began hearing testimony on Thursday.

Layton firefighter Jeremy Stell and fire Capt. Brad Wilkes testified they found the child lifeless on her bed in the burning home.

Wilkes said emergency medical technicians performed CPR on her until they were told by hospital officials that it was pointless.

He said it was eight minutes from the time the fire was reported until the girl was carried out of the house.

Defense attorney John T. Caine said there is no doubt that Lawrence's death was tragic, but he told jurors the case was not all about Lawrence, but about Ott and what is to be done with him.

Caine said jurors will hear about Ott's childhood, his military service and his personal life.

"The evidence will show what helped to fuel this flame that ultimately engulfed this house," Caine said.

Sarah Gooch, Ott's stepdaughter, said Lacey Lawrence "was the sweetest, little girl. She always wanted to make people smile."

Gooch, who was 17 at the time of the attack, was one of the two people stabbed by Ott.

Gooch described how she jumped on Ott's back and hit him over the head with a can to get him to stop stabbing Allen Lawrence, Lacey's father. Allen Lawrence had a relationship with Donna Ott, Mark Ott's estranged wife.

Gooch was stabbed while fighting with her stepfather but didn't realize she had been wounded until after she got Allen Lawrence, who had multiple wounds, out of the house. Gooch lifted her T-shirt in the courtroom and showed the red scars left from the knife wound and the surgery that followed to repair her colon.

She also told jurors that she rarely sleeps at night, and she didn't graduate from high school because everyone wanted to talk about what happened. Gooch said she does not believe Ott is capable of changing.

Testimony was to continue Friday.

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

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