Ott Seeks to Withdraw Insanity Plea in Arson Death

Ott Seeks to Withdraw Insanity Plea in Arson Death

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FARMINGTON, Utah (AP) -- Mark Anthony Ott, charged with capital murder in the arson death of a 6-year-old girl, has asked to withdraw his plea of innocent by reason of insanity and instead simply plead innocent.

Ott, 39, who is in prison on unrelated charges, is accused in the Sept. 1, 2002, death of Lacey Paige and also is accused of wounding two people.

Authorities allege he entered the Layton home of his ex-wife, Donna Ott, and stabbed Allen Lawrence, Donna Ott's boyfriend, and Sarah Gooch, Donna Ott's daughter, then set the house on fire, causing the death of the daughter of Allen Lawrence.

Defense attorney Aric Cramer said it would be difficult under Utah law to prove mental illness.

"We're not saying he doesn't have a problem, but it doesn't rise to the level the statute requires," Cramer said.

Cramer also is seeking a change of venue, citing news articles about the case.

Arguments on the motions are set for Oct. 3 before 2nd District Judge Michael G. Allphin.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys met with Allphin in his chambers to discuss the status of the trial Wednesday.

Davis County Attorney Mel Wilson opposed the change of venue. He said Davis County is the third most populous county in Utah and even though the case has received media coverage, "The Utah Supreme Court has continually recognized that media coverage, even if adverse and extensive, is not sufficient to answer the question of whether a jury will be, is, or has been fair and impartial."

Meanwhile, the defense also has an appeal before the Utah Supreme Court contending that Ott should not be charged with capital murder because he did not know the child was in the home.

Prosecutors maintain Ott went to the home to kill someone.

The Utah Supreme Court is expected to announce Oct. 6 whether it will hear the matter. If it does, the trial set for Oct. 14 will be put on hold.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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