Saying he is “tormented every waking minute by what I did,” a Utah man was sentenced Monday to six years to life in prison for shooting his wife to death as she slept a year ago.
Judge Denise Lindberg listened to nearly two hours of emotional testimony before handing down the only sentence she could under Utah law. She said only the parole board could determine how long Mark Hacking will ultimately stay in prison, but that she will recommend that he be held “a very long time.”
Hacking, 29, said there was no excuse he could offer for his behavior, and that he would serve a thousand lifetimes in prison if it meant amending for his actions in murdering Lori Hacking and dumping her body in the trash. Authorities believe Hacking killed his wife after she discovered he had lied about being admitted to medical school.
“She didn’t do nothing but love me unconditionally, even when I didn’t deserve it. She was the greatest thing that ever happened to me, but I killed her, and took the life of my unborn child and put them in the garbage and I can’t explain why I did it,” Hacking said in a halted voice when addressing the judge and family members.
“I put them in the garbage, and they rotted out at the landfill. I’m tormented every waking minute by what I did,” he said.
'How could you do that, Mark?'
An autopsy of the badly decomposed body could not confirm that Lori Hacking was pregnant, as she had told friends, leaving the state unable to seek the death penalty. Prosecutor Robert Stott said that left insufficient proof for such a charge.
Lori Hacking’s mother, 67-year-old Thelma Soares, said she felt “shattered and betrayed to the very core. After nearly a year, I can’t accept the fact that after shooting her in the head, Mark dumped Lori in the trash.”
Lori Hacking’s body was found three months later at a landfill. Soares said she was only able to bury 15 pounds of bone fragments and teeth from her 115-pound daughter.
“How could you do that, Mark? How could you do that?” Soares asked Hacking during the hearing.
“I’m sorry,” he replied.
The couple were packing for a move to a North Carolina school when Lori Hacking is believed to have found out about the lies. Her co-workers at a Wells Fargo brokerage say she broke down sobbing after making calls to school administrators in North Carolina who, according to police affidavits, told her Mark Hacking was not enrolled there.
Body thrown in trash bin
The affidavits say the couple argued after she confronted him July 18. After Lori went to bed, Mark Hacking stayed up late playing video games for an hour. Then, sorting through his belongings, he found his rifle, went into the bedroom and shot his wife, according to investigators.
He disposed of her body, the rifle and mattress in separate trash bins. And the next morning, he found time to shop for a new mattress while reporting his wife had not returned from an early morning jog.
Lori’s car was found at a downtown park, its seat and mirrors adjusted for a large man, police determined. Thousands of volunteers turned out for days helping search for her before he indicated to family members there was no reason to continue the search.
In April, Hacking pleaded guilty to first-degree murder with a brief admission: “I intentionally shot Lori Hacking in the head with a .22 rifle on July 19, 2004.”
Under Utah’s system of indeterminate criminal sentences, first-degree murder brings a mandatory five years to life, but Hacking’s minimum will be increased to six years because he used a firearm. The judge can only impose the broad range of sentence, leaving it up to Utah’s Board of Pardons and Parole to decide when or if Hacking will ever be set free.