ST. GEORGE — A man has been sentenced to prison for murdering a Cedar City resident.
Mark Mair, 30, appeared in 5th District Court in Cedar City Tuesday where he was sentenced to serve 15 years to life for first-degree felony murder and another 15 years to life for attempted aggravated murder stemming from the shooting death of Justin Hanna.
According to charging documents, Mair went to a residence in a Cedar City trailer park in the early morning hours of July 24, 2016, and pushed in a fan sitting in a bedroom window. Police say he then leaned through the window and began firing a gun toward Hanna and Mair’s ex-girlfriend, who had been in a bed together. Hanna was shot three times before he stumbled into the front room of the home and collapsed from his wounds. He died at the residence a short time later.
Mair pleaded guilty to the charges Aug. 22. Defense attorney Douglas Terry entered an Alford plea on his client’s behalf, meaning he was not admitting to the conduct as outlined in the charges but was pleading guilty for the benefit of the plea bargain and to avoid the potential consequences of going to trial.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, the state agreed to drop the seven remaining third-degree felony counts of discharging a firearm.
The sentence for each of the two charges for which he was convicted is a prison term of 15 to life, as set under Utah law. The question before the court Tuesday was whether those sentences would be served consecutively or concurrently.
The victim’s mother, Margaret Hanna, addressed the court in an emotional statement, saying her son was 34 years old when he was murdered and that she has had three years since the crime took place to figure out “what I would put in a letter, which I am no closer to today, to describe the pain you have caused our family.”
She said she has to live with her grandson asking her, “Why did that man shoot my daddy?” She added that the defendant could have never considered the magnitude his actions would have on their family.
Addressing Mair, Margaret Hanna said, “Punishment is when you can no longer look into your son’s eyes and see him smile back at you. Your prison time will never compare to the time I do daily.”
Margaret Hanna asked the court to sentence the defendant to the maximum sentence, saying, “Your honor, I don’t have my boy anymore.”
Chandra Davis, the defendant’s ex-girlfriend, who was also shot during the incident but survived, said there were no winners in the courtroom and that all families were left suffering.
She addressed Mair, saying “I don’t believe I’m saying this — but I forgive you, Mark.”
Prosecutor Gary Evans told the court that all of the aggravating circumstances apply to “this very violent and egregious act,” adding that it wasn’t a crime of passion, as the defendant claimed, and was not caused by “some impulse or action he could not control.”
For justice to be served, Evans said, Mair’s sentences should run consecutively.
Mair’s attorney said there was nothing he could say that would not seem self-serving or seem hollow to the Hanna family, adding, “I won’t even try, it would insult them.”
Terry said the presentence report revealed the defendant’s actions were largely drug-fueled — which was not a defense, but played a role in the crime — and that Justin Hanna was a friend of the defendant’s.
“(Mair) seemed to feel remorse for his actions and knows he will need to serve a significant amount of time,” Terry said before asking that the court consider imposing the sentences concurrently instead of consecutively.
Mair then addressed the court.
“I know I messed up; I know I ruined a nice family’s life,” he said. “I want them to know that sincerely deep in my heart, that if I could change this, I would.”
Mair said he deserved to go to prison for what he has done and was willing to take whatever sentence the court handed down, adding, “I hope that God forgives me.”
Judge Keith C. Barnes said the case could be summed up as a “senseless, violent act that was done” and thanked the families for providing letters that allowed him to see what type of man Justin Hanna was, which “gave the victim a face.”
“You said you were prepared to take whatever punishment this court imposes,” Barnes said before ordering that the 15-year sentences run consecutively, meaning Mair will spend a minimum of 30 years in prison before he is eligible for parole.
Before the hearing concluded, Terry requested that Mair be allowed to remain in the Iron County Jail for as long as the court would allow to give the defendant’s family time to make arrangements for his grandmother to visit before he was transported to prison, a request that was granted after the state did not object.
According to the transport order signed by Barnes, the defendant was to be sent to the Utah State Prison Thursday.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.