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March 6, 2013

Murder charges filed in Clarksville teen’s death

Accused has history of violent sexual crimes

JEFFERSONVILLE — The man believed to have carried out the brutal killing of a 17-year-old girl in her Clarksville apartment Saturday was charged in Clark County Circuit Court No. 4 on Wednesday.

Richard Carley Hooten Jr., 49, was arrested by Clarksville police about five hours after the battered body of Tara Willenborg was discovered in her Cambridge Square Apartments home by her boyfriend about 3:30 a.m. Saturday.

Hooten appeared for his initial hearing without counsel, as Clark County Prosecutor Steve Stewart and Chief Deputy Prosecutor Jeremy Mull, who are representing the state, sat nearby.

Judge Vicki Carmichael presided over the court and read to Hooten the charges he faces. 

The charges issued by the Office of the Clark County Prosecutor are murder, a class A felony; rape and criminal deviate conduct, both class B felonies; abuse of a corpse, a class D felony; and habitual offender.

Stewart said he has not decided whether or not the death penalty will be sought, and that he expects that decision to be made in the next two weeks.

Hooten told the court the extent of his schooling is the completion of the eighth grade, after Carmichael asked him of his educational background. He also requested the judge appoint him a public defender. 

Following a suggestion made by Stewart, Carmichael said Hooten will remain in the Michael L. Becher Adult Correctional Complex without bond until further proceedings. 

When Stewart began speaking with area media, he took a moment to remind everyone that Hooten is presumed innocent until found guilty at trial. Stewart also remarked on Hooten’s past criminal history.

“The allegations include no less than six prior felony convictions, which include aggravated assault, sodomy, rape over three states — Georgia, Kentucky and Indiana,” Stewart said.

He said it is likely the state will not offer a plea bargain, and the trial date, which was set for Aug. 13 during the hearing, will take place.

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