State seeks death penalty in S. Ind. teen's death

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. - Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against a convicted sex offender accused of sexually assaulting and killing a 17-year-old southern Indiana girl.

The News and Tribune reported Thursday that prosecutors made the request during a hearing for 49-year-old Richard Carley Hooten Jr. of Clarksville. He's charged in Clark Circuit Court with the March 2 rape and murder of a neighbor, 17-year-old Tara Willenborg.

Willenborg's family came face to face with Hooten in court Thursday.


"Indescribable... I've been shaking ever since I was told he was going to be here. I've been shaking nonstop," Tara's father, Todd Willenborg, said.

Hooten has admitted to reporters that he raped and murdered Willenborg in the Clarksville apartment where she lived with her boyfriend. He's also charged with criminal deviate conduct and being a habitual offender.


Clark County Prosecutor Steve Stewart said the death penalty is made for people like Hooten.

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

Hooten served 15 years in a Georgia prison on convictions of rape, aggravated sodomy and aggravated assault. He also has a previous Clark County conviction for sexual battery and residential entry.

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