INDIANA — The Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled that a New Albany man’s 65-year-sentence for the murder of his wife is appropriate, due in part to the multiple prior reports of abuse and the fact that he hid her body for close to a month.
Judson K. Hoover, 51, was charged last September with one count of murder after the body of his his wife, 37-year-old Rebecca Hoover, was found dismembered in a storage unit rented by the defendant more than three weeks after her death. The same day of his initial hearing in Floyd County Superior Court No. 1, Hoover pleaded guilty to strangling his wife and stomping her head multiple times in front of one of the couple’s children.
Two months later, he was sentenced to 65 years — the maximum in Indiana for murder without any enhancements such as death penalty or habitual offender.
In his appellate brief, Hoover stated that the court hadn’t given enough weight to his childhood history of abuse, his lack of much of a criminal history and his swift guilty plea — which he said he did to spare the child who witnessed the killing to have to go through a trial.
But in its ruling Friday, the state appellate court found that the sentence was appropriate, stating in part that police had “repeatedly responded to calls reporting domestic violence at Hoover’s house, and the facts surrounding Hoover’s murder of [Rebecca] are particularly egregious, as he attempted to cover up his crime by dismembering and hiding her corpse and falsely informing the court in a divorce proceeding that he was unaware of [his wife’s] whereabouts.”
Floyd County Prosecutor Chris Lane, who had worked as deputy prosecutor for 12 years, was sworn in as prosecutor as the investigation was ongoing, and days before Hoover was charged. He said the case is “by far the worst I’ve ever prosecuted or heard of,” adding that “We’re glad in our opinion justice was upheld. We believe that the sentencing from the judge was just and correct and we are very thankful that the court of appeals agreed with the sentencing decision.”
A message left for Matthew McGovern, representing Hoover in the appellate case, was not returned by Wednesday evening.
Court records show that the couple was married in 2008 and between 2017 and 2020, New Albany police had taken four reports of physical and sexual abuse by Hoover toward his wife, only one that resulted in charges being filed. In April 2020, Hoover was charged with a level 6 felony for domestic battery in the presence of a child and a level 6 felony for strangulation after one of the children witnessed the abuse and ran to a neighbor’s home.
He was on probation for these charges when he killed his wife in their basement Aug. 2, later dismembering her body and moving her remains to two storage units. Her mother had reported Rebecca missing several days after her death, but her body was not discovered until the child who witnessed the killing reported it to a school counselor.
According to online records from the Indiana Department of Correction, Hoover is now being held at the New Castle Psychiatric Unit. His earliest expected release date is May 31, 2069.