Stewart said it is too soon to determine if he will seek the death penalty.
“This type of case, obviously, has our highest priority,” Stewart said. “It is not very often that, even as a prosecutor, we sit down just a day or two after the murder happened and have to face the victim’s parents and explain to them the legal process that is going to go on in the next year or two years.”
Stewart said the handling of such a tragic case is tough for those involved, including him.
“You can’t see pictures of a 17-year-old who has been the victim of a rape and murder and not have it affect you,” he said.
According to a probable-cause affidavit, Hooten, who has previously been charged with sex crimes, admitted to police that he forcibly raped and strangled Willenborg.
He was arrested about 8 a.m. Saturday, about five hours after Willenborg was killed in her home at Cambridge Square, near Kopp Lane.
Willenborg lived in the apartment with her boyfriend, who was not in the residence when she was killed, according to CPD. Police said Willenborg’s boyfriend discovered her body after returning home from work.
According to the affidavit, police responded to the murder scene after Willenborg’s boyfriend called 911.
“I could see a large section around her neck that was consistent with bruising,” a responding officer wrote in the report.
Police spoke with a woman who lives across the hall from Willenborg’s apartment. The woman told police she is Hooten’s girlfriend, but she didn’t know his last name. The woman also said Hooten works at a furniture store in Louisville, but she didn’t know the name of the business. She told police that Hooten often stays in her apartment.