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March 5, 2013

Teen’s accused murderer in court

Richard Hooten informed of possible charges, held without bond

JEFFERSONVILLE — The man believed to have sexually assaulted and killed a 17-year-old girl in her Clarksville home Saturday morning appeared in a Clark County court Monday afternoon for an advisement-of-rights hearing.

Richard Carley Hooten, 49, was informed by Clark County Circuit Court No. 1 Judge Daniel Moore of the six felony charges that the Office of the Clark County Prosecutor can bring against him at an initial hearing expected to take place within 72 hours of Monday’s hearing.

Hooten was identified as a suspect in the death of Tara Willenborg, 17, soon after Clarksville Police Department officers responded to her Cambridge Square Apartments unit and found her lying next to a bed, unclothed, battered and deceased.

Clark County Prosecutor Steve Stewart and Chief Deputy Prosecutor Jeremy Mull represented the state during the proceeding. Hooten appeared with no counsel.

Moore told the court that Hooten will be held without bond in the Michael L. Becher Adult Correctional Complex in Jeffersonville until his next hearing.

The charges that were named during the hearing consisted of murder; rape and criminal deviant conduct, both class A felonies; criminal confinement, a class B felony; sexual battery, a class C felony; and strangulation, a class D felony.

Hooten wore inmate attire during the proceedings, his face solemn under a mussed top of graying hair as he listened to the litany of charges and the corresponding possible prison sentences. 

While the state has 72 hours to issue official charges, Stewart said after the hearing that he expects the charges will be issued within the next day and that he anticipates formally issuing all of the charges presented Monday.

“There is no question our victim suffered a horrible death. She was 17 years old, and there was no real prior relationship between [her and Hooten] when this happened,” Stewart said. “It is a heinous crime, and it is my job to see justice is served in this case.”

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