Part 5: Exclusive Eyewitness News iTeam series, 'A family's search for closure'
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WCHS/WVAH) —
Despite being convicted of first-degree murder with no chance of parole, Mark Hanna continues his legal battles.
The man who finally revealed the whereabouts of his victim, Leslie Marty, after 35 years wants a chance at parole.
In the final part of our Eyewitness News iTeam exclusive series, “A family’s search for closure” we speak with Hanna about his court challenge and also with Marty’s mother and sister to see what they think about the possibility of Hanna ever getting out of prison.
More than 30 years after his conviction for kidnapping Marty, and 20 years following his murder conviction for killing her, Hanna contends the legal system has failed him.
“You know, I've been trying to tell my story for 20 years. You know, you've got the documents, they was going to dismiss this murder charge because I've been in prison since 1985. I did an entire life sentence and when I come up for parole in 1996 they brought this murder charge,” Hanna said.
Hanna killed his ex-girlfriend after she broke up with him. He was initially charged with kidnapping because investigators couldn't locate Marty's remains. One of Hanna's major contentions is that he was incorrectly advised about a plea deal which would have resulted in a second-degree murder conviction with a chance for parole.
“In less than an hour, maybe two hours with a court-appointed attorney we'd sign the paperwork and the deal would be done. But unfortunately, I was given Ira Haught, who tricked me into going to trial telling me that the plea deal had changed when it actually hadn't changed,” Hanna said.
But the man who prosecuted Hanna twice said he personally made the plea offer to Hanna and that it was rejected.
“I suggested that would offer him a second-degree murder plea and he's still liable to be in there for life on the kidnapping anyway, if he would tell us what he did with Leslie, give Leslie's remains back to her mother. And his response essentially was, after toward the end of the conversation was, well I'm going to win at trial anyway. And I said, okay and we had a trial,” Hanna said.
Hanna has been in prison since 1985. Earlier this year, he finally revealed the location of Marty's remains. It was a secret he had long kept in hopes of using it to make a new deal with the court. But that new deal was never offered.
Hanna also contends several of his court-appointed lawyers have given him sub-par representation and that each time he gets new counsel, he has to start his legal maneuvering at square one.
“You know the thing is I just want the public to know that I've been trying, that I wanted to give this information since 1996. And I thought I was going to do it, but because of Ira Haught and then afterwards the elected people. You know, Judge Hill, like I said, he turned my habeas down four or five different times. And they knew that my allegations were that the state was defrauded, I was deceived,” Hanna said.
While Hanna continues his journey through the legal system, the mother and sister of his victim have their thoughts about his efforts to one day be released from prison.
“I don't want him to hurt anybody like he hurt my sister and like for the past 35 years he's hurt us. And everybody's safe where he is,” Marty’s sister Angela Kelly said.
“I don't want him to ever have the opportunity to do that to somebody's else's mother, sister, daughter or anything. Where he is everybody is safe. And I just don't have the confidence that he would be able to not do that. I don't wish him any additional harm or anything like that but. I think he is where he needs to be, exactly,” Marty’s mother Mary Brown said.
Hanna has a habeus corpus hearing pending in Wood County Circuit Court regarding his past legal representation, however, his disclosure of Marty’s remains is not part of any deal he has reached with the court.
Marty’s funeral services are scheduled for next week when she will be at long last interred in her final resting place.