Richard Hooten sentenced to life for rape and murder of teen - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Richard Hooten sentenced to life for rape and murder of teen

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Richart Hooten Richart Hooten
Tara Willenborg Tara Willenborg
CLARKSVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) -- A convicted sex offender who pleaded guilty to raping and killing a teenage girl was sentenced to life without parole plus 70 years.

Richard Hooten, a non-compliant sex offender, was facing the death penalty until he accepted a plea deal for killing 17-year-old Tara Willenborg in March 2013 at a Clarksville apartment.

Hooten apologized to family members as he came into court Monday.

When asked about learning he would be spending the rest of his life in prison, Hooten said that was "okay."

"Why'd you take the plea deal?," asked WDRB's Lindsay Allen.

"Trying to help everyone out in the family," he replied.

In March, Hooten pleaded guilty to rape, murder, criminal deviant conduct and being a habitual offender.

At a press conference last year, he described how he killed 17-year-old Tara Willenborg, saying he forced himself on her at her Clarksville apartment, then he chocked her until she couldn't breathe. He tied an apron around her neck trying to make it look like suicide.

In court, the judge heard from Tara's older brother, who described his baby sister with one word.

"She was beautiful."

Prosecutors were seeking the death penalty, but a plea deal means the family can finally move on

"They really haven't had a chance to grieve as long as this was open," said prosecutor Steve Stewart.

Tara Willenborg died just a few days shy of her 18th birthday. A few weeks ago, her father dedicated a memorial garden in her honor.

When asked if the sentence gives him peace, he replied, "Somewhat. I don't know about total peace."

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