Mark Ott of White Lake Township, who was convicted of murdering his parents in 2008, lost an appeal in the Michigan Court of Appeals earlier this month.
Ott was convicted of two counts of first-degree premeditated murder, with the caveat that he is mentally ill, and two counts of second-degree murder, also with the caveat that he is mentally ill, after a jury trial in 2010. He was sentenced to concurrent terms of natural life imprisonment without parole for the first-degree premeditated murder convictions, and 37.5 to 60 years in prison for the second-degree murder convictions.
While it isn’t disputed that Ott stabbed and killed his parents, the appeals court ruled, he maintained in his appeal that he was legally insane at the time of the murder and that there was insufficient evidence to support the jury’s verdict that he was guilty but mentally ill.
The difference between legal insanity and guilty but mentally ill is “the substantial capacity to either appreciate the nature and quality or the wrongfulness of his or her conduct or to conform his or her conduct to the requirements of the law.”
The trial jury had determined at the time that Ott had this capacity and that there was sufficient evidence to support that he was not legally insane at the time of the killings, which led them to the verdict of guilty but mentally ill.
The Court of Appeals found no reason to substitute its judgment for the jury’s, and the Circuit Court sentence stands for the first-degree murder convictions.
However, the second-degree murder counts were dropped due to the constitutional protection against double jeopardy, which does not allow for multiple punishments for the same offense.
Nevertheless, the first-degree murder convictions stand, and Ott will remain in prison for life without parole.
Barbara and Michael Ott, Mark Ott’s parents, were found stabbed to death inside their White Lake home on the morning of Feb. 21, 2008. Their younger son, Christopher, discovered the bodies, according to White Lake Township police at the time of the incident.
Mark Ott reportedly suffers from bipolar disorder and had stopped taking his medication prior to his parents’ murder. White Lake police reported at the time that they were familiar with Mark Ott, including through response to domestic calls from the family’s home.
He was found and arrested several hours after his parents’ bodies were discovered.
Barbara Ott had been a White Lake Township employee for nearly a decade; and Michael Ott was a self-employed electrician who had done work in the township offices.