Richard Hooten being escorted from court following his sentencing.
Tara Willenborg (Source: Family photo)
Clark County Prosecutor Steve Stewart
JEFFERSONVILLE, IN (WAVE) - A convicted sex offender who admitted to raping and killing a Clarksville teen will spend the rest of his life behind bars. Richard Hooten was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole plus 70 years for raping and killing Tara Willenborg, 17, in 2013.
In March, Hooten agreed to plead guilty to the crimes. It was a move that allowed him to avoid the death penalty. On the way into the court for sentencing, Hooten told us he was sorry for what he did.
"Not exactly a happy day," said Steve Stewart, the Clark County prosecutor. "Naturally we remember 17 year old Tara Willenborg. She had the rest of her life and dreams ahead of her that was needlessly taken away by Mr. Hooten."
Hooten shocked everyone last year when he came out and talked to the media, giving horrific and graphic details about the day he raped and strangled Willenborg, and then tried to cover up her death.
"Tried to give her CPR and mouth to mouth trying to revive her and did that for ten to 15 minutes trying to get her back and couldn't," said Hooten during that interview. "Just acted like she did it herself and tied up one of her aprons around her neck and left."
Hooten admitted to WAVE 3 News that he started raping women when he was in his 20s and said he raped at least 4 or 5 people.
Stewart said Willenborg's family was satisfied with the plea deal and it allows them to not go through a drawn out trial where they would have to relive the nightmare in public.
"We don't have to hear from him anymore," said Todd Willenborg, Tara's father. "That is the important part."
"It's clear that this is wanted by the victims and I don't think there is any question I had to follow those wishes," said Stewart.
Tara's family said her life was cut too short. They said she had dreams of having her own cupcake bakery and loved animals.
"She was beautiful young girl just getting started in life," said Willenborg.
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