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Published: Friday, 4/15/2005

<font face='verdana' size='1' color =#CC0000><b> * New * </b></font> Utah man pleads guilty to murder of wife

ASSOCIATED PRESS

SALT LAKE CITY Mark Hacking, who was accused of killing his wife after she learned that he lied about getting into medical school, pleaded guilty to murder today. Prosecutors say Hacking shot his wife in the head as she slept, then threw 27-year-old Lori Hacking s body in a trash bin. Volunteers scouring a landfill found her remains about three months later.

Prosecutors said the sentencing range will be from six years to life.

Hacking, a hospital orderly, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder.

He also was charged with obstructing justice by disposing of the body, the gun and a bloody mattress, but those charges were dropped as part of today s deal.

Sentencing was scheduled for June 6.

Prosecutors were unable to determine if Lori Hacking was five weeks pregnant, as she had told friends. That meant the husband could not be charged with a capital crime.

Lori Hacking s colleagues at a Wells Fargo brokerage house have said she broke down sobbing after learning of her husband s deception.

She became aware of the lies after making calls to school administrators in North Carolina, where Hacking claimed he was enrolled for medical school. Hacking had also lied about graduating from the University of Utah.

Hacking, 28, entered his plea after his lawyer showed no sign of preparing for a trial. The lawyer, Gilbert Athay, filed no motions, asked for none of the usual hearings that precede trials, and contacted no prosecution witnesses leading many to believe a plea deal was in the works.

That became more apparent when Judge Denise Lindberg scheduled another murder trial for the time Monday when she was to preside over Hacking s trial.

Hacking was last in court Oct. 29, when he pleaded not guilty to all four charges.

Hacking had reported his wife missing to police, saying she had not returned from a morning jog in a Salt Lake park.

The news prompted a weeklong search for the former stockbroker s assistant by thousands of volunteers a search that echoed another sensational Salt Lake crime, the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart from her bedroom.

Hacking was in a psychiatric hospital after suffering a breakdown when he reportedly confessed to his brothers that he killed his wife using a .22-caliber firearm.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com.



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