State to seek death penalty for man accused of raping, murdering teen


by Adam Walser

Posted on March 21, 2013 at 5:59 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 21 at 6:01 PM

(WHAS11) -- In a new walking cast, shackled at his hands and feet, Richard Hooten shuffled past his victim's family into court, not talking to them or reporters.

Hooten learned Thursday that the state plans to seek the death penalty against him.

He admitted he raped and murdered 17-year-old Tara Rose Willenborg at a Clarksville apartment complex March 2 after seeing her sitting outside when he returned from a bar.

“I've been shaking ever since I was told he was going to be here. I've been shaking non-stop,” Tara’s father Todd Willenborg, said who saw Hooten today for the first time since his arrest.

Clark County Prosecutor Steve Stewart says he's seeking the death penalty, which he described as made for people like Hooten.

“The worst of the worst where there's a certainty of guilt, and an absence of any significant mitigating circumstances,” Stewart said.

Hooten called a press conference to discuss the rape and murder days after his arrest.

He described choking her during sex, then trying to make it appear like she choked herself.

“He didn't need to say a word,” said Todd Willenborg.” He'd already given hours of confession. They already had everything, there was enough DNA. His little talk there wasn't necessary. It made it worse for us, put him in the spotlight.”

Family members taunted Hooten as he walked out of the courtroom, telling him they wish he would hang himself in jail and save taxpayers money.