Richard Hooten pleads guilty to rape and murder of 17-year-old - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Richard Hooten pleads guilty to rape and murder of 17-year-old

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Richard Hooten Richard Hooten
Tara Willenborg Tara Willenborg

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- An Indiana man accused of raping and killing a 17-year-old girl just over a year ago has pleaded guilty, according to Clark County prosecutors.

On Thursday, Richard Hooten pleaded guilty to murder, rape, criminal deviant conduct and being a habitual offender. As part of the plea agreement, he is expected to receive a sentence of life without the possibility of parole.

Hooten was accused of killing 17-year-old Tara Willenborg in March 2013.

Days later, Hooten held a press conference with the media in which he went into great detail about how he raped four or five women, with Willenborg being the last.

At that time, he told WDRB he forced himself on Willenborg and sexually assaulted her.  He said while he was having sex with her, he began choking her and she stopped breathing.

"I just lost it in my head, lost control," he said in March 2013. "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 said 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.

Hooten told us it was a crime of opportunity, and he didn't know why he raped women. When asked, "What do you remember her saying to you?" he responded, "She just said, 'Just don't,' you know? 'Just leave.'"

When asked how we can know he really is remorseful, Hooten answered, "Well, I can tell you what I say, because I am, it's the first time I did that to anyone."

The next question was how he could kill a person and remain so calm.  His response: "I don't know. I wasn't calm. I was trying to figure out what I was going to do because I did a terrible crime."

Hooten was a non-compliant sex offender police had been looking for.

At that time, the 49-year-old admitted that Willenborg was not his first victim. He said he started raping women when he was in his 20's.

WDRB's Valerie Chinn asked, "Can you put a number on how many people you have raped?" Hooten replied, "Maybe four to five."

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