Murder suspect confesses, candidly answers questions

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by Adam Walser

WHAS11.com

Posted on March 7, 2013 at 1:14 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 7 at 7:12 PM

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WHAS11) -- Police say it was a first even for them, an accused killer called a bizarre news conference Thursday morning where he spoke candidly with reporters. Click here to watch the raw video.

Richard Hooten admitted to raping and killing 17-year-old Tara Willenborg, but that's not the only violent crime he says he committed.

Hooten admitted he has raped multiple women over the years, but he claims that the latest victim is the only person he has ever killed.

Hooten said he wanted to talk to the news media in order to apologize to the murder victim's family, but during the course of questioning, he spent most of the time talking about sex crimes he admitted to committing.

“I wish I could just take it back, but I don't know how I could. She's gone,” Hooten said, when asked what he would tell Willenborg’s family.

With little emotion, Hooten spent more than 15 minutes answering questions about the rape and murder, as well as his past.

He met Willenborg sitting outside her Camden Court apartment in Clarksville, Ind. early Saturday morning and convinced her to allow him inside to watch television.

Within a few minutes, Hooten says attacked her.

“I was just having sex with her and anxiety came over me, I guess. I had my hands around her throat. I just kept going and going. I didn't know how strong I was, putting pressure on her. I choked her,” he said.

Hooten, an Indiana registered sex offender, described the attack as a crime of opportunity.

“I didn't really plan on it or nothing like that because I went into her apartment. She's a pretty girl, you know. I didn't know she was 17. I thought she was 19 or 20,” he said.

When asked whether that would make any difference, Hooten said, “Not really. Maybe a little bit because she was a minor. You know. 17 years old to me is a minor. I never raped nobody younger than me. It was always older.”

Hooten served 13 years in prison in Georgia after being convicted of rape, sodomy and aggravated assault.

He also has convictions for sex crimes in Jefferson County, Kentucky and in connection with a 2009 attack on his neighbor in Clark County, Ind.

During our questioning, Hooten admitted to a rape that happened at O' Dolly's bar in South Louisville in January, a crime for which he has not been charged.

“I can't remember her name. I just met her one time at the bar,” Hooten said.

Hooten says he plans to plead guilty to the Clarksville rape and murder, even though he will likely face the death penalty.

“If they want to take a life for a life, that's fine,” he said.

Sheriff Danny Rodden says it is his policy to allow inmates to talk to the media if they choose to, and that is what happened in this case.

Hooten says he has been appointed an attorney by the court, but has not yet met with one.
 

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