Hooten pleads guilty to murder; Victim's father relieved
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB)---A non-compliant sex offender, accused of raping and killing a 17-year-old girl, pleaded guilty to the crime on Thursday.
"This is what us, the family, we sat down and talked about it and this was in the best interest of everybody," says Todd Willenborg.
Todd Willenborg says he has been waiting for this day.
"It's a done deal now," he says.
His 17-year-old daughter, Tara Willenborg, was raped and murdered in March of 2013 at her Clarksville apartment.
At the time, the man accused of the crime, Richard Hooten, a non-compliant sex offender, even admitted to the media that he was responsible.
"I was trying to figure out what I was gonna do cause I just did a terrible crime", Hooten previously told WDRB.
"A heinous, heinous offense and one for which he should never again see the light of day," says Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull.
Hooten was facing the death penalty, until he took a plea deal on Thursday.
He has now agreed to life behind bars, without the possibility of parole.
This was what the family was hoping for.
"This does give us some relief. We know it's not going to trial now. We didn't need all the nasty little details coming out. Other people didn't need to know that stuff. This right here seals it," says Todd Willenborg.
Todd Willenborg and family members are now preparing to speak at Hooten's upcoming sentencing day.
"It's something I'm gonna have to think about a little while cause I don't want to project a lot of hate.
They also don't want to lose focus their loved one.
A memorial garden was recently dedicated in front of the family's Jeffersonville church that they attend, with a plaque that has her name on it.
It ensures that this community will never forget 17-year-old Tara Willenborg.
Hooten will be formally sentenced by the judge on May 19th in Clark County.
On Thursday, he pleaded guilty to murder, rape, and criminal deviate conduct.
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