Hyrum Man Pleads Guilty to Murder

Hyrum Man Pleads Guilty to Murder

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BRIGHAM CITY, Utah (AP) -- A Hyrum karate instructor accused of killing an Ogden girl and sexually assaulting three Box Elder County girls has pleaded guilty to one first-degree felony count each of murder and rape.

Mark Jensen, 39, had faced an aggravated murder charge and a potential death sentence for the slaying of Jammie Richards, 17.

In exchange for his guilty pleas Monday to the reduced murder charge and a rape charge in an assault on a 16-year-old girl, the charges involving attacks on two other girls were dismissed.

Box Elder and Cache County sheriff's investigators arrested Jensen Oct. 13 in Hyrum for the slaying. Richards' body was found Oct. 10 near a church parking lot just west of Fielding. She had been shot.

First District Court Judge Ben Hadfield set sentencing for Sept. 9.

The two felonies are punishable by prison terms of five years to life. County Attorney Amy Hugie said she believes Jensen will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Jensen also is charged in Sweetwater County, Wyoming, with kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 6-year-old girl in 1997.

Jensen told Hadfield on Monday that the charges, which accused him of shooting Richards in the head and raping another girl in an unrelated incident, were an accurate summary of what happened.

"I'm glad he fessed up to it rather than push it out to a long trial," Mary Richards, grandmother of Jammie Richards, said.

Prosecutors had charged Jensen with aggravated murder on the contention that he had killed Jammie Richards because he believed she was a drug informant. Hugie said there was no evidence the girl had been an informant.

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

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