11/15/2004 at 01:00 AM EST
They were the two words Lori Hacking's family did not want to hear: "Not guilty." On Oct. 29 Mark Hacking stood mute as his attorney entered that plea for the murder of Mark's wife, Lori. Hacking, 28, had ignored his in-laws' appeal to plead guilty and spare them and his own family a trial that is now scheduled to begin April 18. "Mark continues to hurt us," an angry Thelma Soares, Lori's mother, told reporters after the hearing in Salt Lake City. Paul Soares, Lori's brother, was even more scathing in a letter he wrote Mark Sept. 9. "Just tell the truth," he said. "Be a man."
Prosecutors believe Mark killed Lori, 27, because she had uncovered the many lies he'd spun, including the false claim that he had been accepted into medical school. Mark allegedly confessed to his brothers Scott and Lance that he had shot Lori in the head on July 19 while she slept, then dumped her body in a trash bin. (Searchers found her badly decomposed remains on Oct. 1.) Paul Soares questioned even the confession in his letter to Mark: "Lori was sleeping like a princess in bed and you took her life...Are you being honest in that? Have you ever told the truth?"
Mark's family, which remains close with the Soareses, has encouraged him to avoid a trial and "come clean"—which Mark plans to do in a tell-all book he's writing about himself and Lori. All the same, Scott has tried to be positive, saying a trial might answer lingering questions both families have. But he dreads the possibility of testifying against Mark. "It's going to be painful," he said. "But my family is still committed to doing the right thing." Ultimately, Thelma Soares is confident her daughter will get justice. "I know," she said, "that one day Mark will receive perfect judgment from the only judge who knows every detail of what he did that terrible night."