Lori Hacking's remains were found in a landfill weeks after her disappearance, and weeks after Mark Hacking was found acting strangely, had to be hospitalized for stress and told relatives he had committed the murder.
The judge set Hacking's trial for first-degree murder for April 18. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty.
Authorities believe Lori Hacking, 27, was killed July 19 after learning her husband wasn't enrolled in medical school in North Carolina, though they were arranging to move there. It was among a series of deceptions Mark Hacking had perpetuated over several years, police say.
Security was "incredibly tight" at the courthouse, reports Ben Winslow of CBS radio affiliate KSL-AM. When Mark Hacking came out, he was wearing a bulletproof vest over his khaki jumpsuit, and there were at least half a dozen Salt Lake County deputy sheriffs in the courtroom behind locked doors.
The sheriff's office said this is standard in a high-profile case like this.
The victim's brother, Paul Soares, sent a letter to Hacking in jail, urging him to "be a man" and plead guilty, according to a newspaper story Friday.
"Save your family the grief and cost of this attorney. Just plead guilty for once. Just tell the truth. Take responsibility for your actions," Soares wrote, according to the Deseret Morning News.
"Your father said you were determined to do what is right — even if it costs you your life. ... Just tell the judge the truth. Admit it. Don't ask for some lenient plea bargain. Be a man," the letter continued.
"We want him to get the maximum that he can. I would have no problem at all with him never seeing the outside of bars again. I'd like him to spend the rest of his life in jail," Soares told reporters Friday outside the courthouse.
Hacking's defense attorney has indicated he would take the case to trial and challenge Hacking's alleged confession to his brothers that he shot his wife while she slept and disposed of her remains, the weapon and a mattress in the trash.
Defense attorney Gil Athay declined to discuss his plans Friday. Prosecutor Robert Stott said no discussions have been held about a plea agreement.
Hacking's parents, Douglas and Janet Hacking, attended the hearing.
"It's not pleasant" for the family, said Douglas Hacking. "It's been really hard, very hard, but we're getting through it."
Hacking's brother, Scott, said he wasn't looking forward to testifying against Mark in what would be an emotional trial.
"Any time they call a family member to testify against another family member, it's going to be painful," he said, adding that Mark Hacking was "under extensive psychiatric testing" while in jail.