Richard Hooten faces death penalty in Willenborg murder - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Richard Hooten faces death penalty in Willenborg murder

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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- The man who admitted to police he raped, killed, and tried to cover up the death of 17-year-old Tara Willenborg now faces the death penalty.

Prosecutors filed amended charges in the Richard Hooten case on Thursday.

One female family member was openly weeping in court.  Members of the victim's family yelled to him as he walked out of the court hearing.

Willenborg's father was visibly shaken and says what the family has had to go through is indescribable. He is angry that Richard Hooten spoke to the media about the crime.

"That was a big ploy there," Todd Willenborg said, "trying to come up with some defense or something because he didn't need to say a word.  He already gave hours of confessions, they already had everything, they had enough DNA.  His little talk on there wasn't necessary, it just made it worse for us."

He added that Hooten should, "Do everyone in the state and the country a favor and hang yourself in that jail, get it over with now."

Clark County Prosecutor Steve Stewart says the decision to pursue the death penalty didn't take very long.

"We look forward to our day in court so that a jury of his peers can judge whether he's guilty of the crime and assess an appropriate punishment that would include a death sentence," says Steve Stewart.

Earlier this month, WDRB's Valerie Chinn described Hooten as "calm, and matter-of-fact" as he spoke about raping four or five women, with Willenborg being the latest.  He says he forced himself on her and sexually assaulted her.  He says while having sex with her, she stopped breathing after he choked her with both hands. 

"I just lost it in my head, lost control," he said.  "I was having sex with her, anxiety on me. I had my hands around her throat. I kept going and going. I didn't know how strong I was, really putting pressure on her. I was choking her." 

That's when Hooten says he started CPR, but after he realized she was dead, he took her work apron and wrapped it around her neck to make it look like she had committed suicide.

During Chinn's interview with Hooten he also said he knows he needs help and was not opposed to being sentenced to death if found guilty.

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