INDIANA — A Southern Indiana man convicted in 2020 of killing his wife and dismembering and hiding her body for almost a month has petitioned the Indiana Supreme Court after his sentence appeal was denied.
Judson K. Hoover, 51, was sentenced to 65 years last November in the death of his wife, 37-year-old Rebecca Hoover, two months after he pleaded guilty in Floyd County to strangling and stomping her head in front of one of the couple’s children. A murder conviction in Indiana can carry between 45 and 65 years, without any sentence enhancements including the death penalty or life without parole.
Rebecca Hoover had been reported missing by her mother in early August. Her body was found just over three weeks later in a storage unit rented by her husband after the child who witnessed the killing reported it to a school counselor.
The defendant was charged with murder last September and pleaded guilty the same day.
Hoover appealed the maximum sentence, stating in his appellate brief that the judge had not given enough weight to his history or childhood abuse, lack of criminal history and that he had pleaded guilty so quickly.
The appeals court upheld the sentence, citing in its brief a history of domestic violence. Between 2017 and 2020, New Albany police had responded four times to the couple’s home, on reports of sexual and other physical violence. One of these instances resulted in charges, and Hoover was at the time of his wife’s death on probation for a level 6 felony for domestic battery in the presence of a child and a level 6 felony for strangulation. In that case, the allegations were that the same child who later witnessed the mother’s death had witnessed physical violence toward the mother by Hoover and had run to a neighbor’s house for help.
The appellate court also said the sentence was appropriate due to the “particularly egregious” facts of the case — including that the defendant had hidden his wife’s body for weeks, lied about her whereabouts and filed for divorce the day after the killing.
In his petition to the Indiana Supreme Court filed earlier this month, attorneys for Hoover state that it was an outlier for the trial court to give the maximum sentence in this case, given Hoover’s character before the killing. It also includes that the court should not have given so much weight to two misdemeanor offenses charged nearly 20 years ago in its decision to bring the full 65 years.
“”...Judson’s character is truly revealed by his willingness to plead guilty the same day the murder charge was filed,” the petition read, in part. “This extraordinary act demonstrated that Judson was willing to sacrifice his own freedom for the benefit of his family.”
The Indiana Supreme Court has not yet filed a decision on whether it will hear the case. 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.