War Vet Gets Life Sentence for Rape, Murder of Teen

A judge has sentenced Robert Marko to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder of 19-year-old Judi Lawrence in 2008. The sentencing comes after Marko's conviction earlier in the month.

Along with the life sentence, handed down for the first degree murder conviction, Marko was also sentenced to 96 more years behind bars for the other crimes he was convicted of, which include two counts of sexual assault, and criminal attempt to commit sexual assault with a deadly weapon.

Lawrence's body was dumped off Old Stage Road. After being arrested, Marko led authorities to the property.

Marko, an Army specialist out of Fort Carson, was arrested on October 13, 2008 in this case. He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Judi Lawrence's father, John broke down in tears outside the courtroom after the verdict was handed down on February 2.

"We got him. I can go see my baby," cried John L. Lawrence.

John Lawrence says he made a promise to Judi that he would be present for everyday of the trial and he lived up to that promise. But, he says sometimes he had to sit out in the hallway because the testimony was just too hard for him to handle.

John Lawrence says his daughter was all heart. She was a kind, loving girl, who wouldn't hurt a fly and he thinks Marko took advantage of that.

"If his parents decide to forgive him, they can go to jail and see him. Now matter what, all I got is a little rock that I get to look at and see my baby," John Lawrence cried.

During opening statements on January 13, the defense never denied Marko killed Lawrence in October, 2008, but they did argue Marko was insane when he did it. Marko's lawyer told jurors he was a "damaged man" who was neglected and abused emotionally and sexually as a child.

In their closing arguments, the defense stood by their claim that Marko couldn't distinguish right from wrong on the day Lawrence was killed.

Marko told officers that he and the victim had sex, and then got into an argument. While arguing, Marko allegedly blindfolded and gagged Lawrence before cutting her throat.

The prosecution argued Marko knew exactly what he was doing. That argument won.

"Our condolences go to the Lawrence family," said Senior Deputy District Attorney Debbie Pearson after the trial. "It's been a long two years. I'm very sorry for their loss."

Family members said at the time that Lawrence met Marko online.
Officers say that the pair met up on October 10, the last day Lawrence was seen.

"We appreciate their conclusion. Mr. Marko needs to be kept away from the community," said Pearson.

Marko joined the Army in June of 2006, and was deployed to Iraq in 2007.