UPDATE: Man who strangled mother facing extended prison term

 

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UPDATE: 1:20 p.m.

URBANA — A Champaign County judge will decide how long a Champaign man will spend behind bars for strangling his mother late last year.

But whatever sentence Richard Stover, 41, receives will amount to the rest of his life.

Stover pleaded guilty to murdering his mother, Betty J. Stover, 60, on Dec. 29, in the home in the 1800 block of Sangamon Drive that she shared with her son, a multiple convicted felon.

Judge Heidi Ladd set sentencing for June 27. Because Mrs. Stover was over 60, Stover faces an extended term between 60 and 100 years in prison to be served at 100 percent.

A handful of family members were present to see Stover enter the plea. He made little eye contact with them. A few shed tears as they heard Assistant State's Attorney Matt Banach lay out the evidence police had collected against Stover.

Banach did so chronologically.

Just before 2 a.m. that Friday, police investigated a robbery at Walgreens, 1713 W. Springfield Ave., C, where the robber reached over the counter, grabbed money from the register and left in an older model maroon four-door car.

Two hours later, police saw that car near the Circle K gas station at 1301 S. Mattis Ave., not far from the home of Mrs. Stover. Police sat and watched it.

Just before 7 a.m., they saw a man, later identified as Stover, leave 1807 Sangamon Avenue, get in the car and drive off. Police tried to stop it but he got away from them, leading them on an extended chase through town to the west and north.

It would be another four hours before they located that car outside Mahomet-Seymour High School. Stover had gotten out but police were able to catch him quickly.

As the chase was going on, police learned that the car he was in belonged to a friend of Mrs. Stover who had loaned it to her to use. That woman was aware of Stover's past criminal conduct.

Police also talked with Stover's girlfriend. She told them she was concerned for Mrs. Stover and that Betty Stover never would have allowed her son to take that car.

As police were speaking with the girlfriend, Stover called her on the phone.

An officer listened in with her permission and heard Stover admit he had robbed the Walgreens and was on the run. He also talked about his frustrations with his mother.

Police then went to Mrs. Stover's home to check on her and found her body on the floor, the upper part of it covered with a blanket.

Banach said police interviewed Stover at length and after admitting he robbed the Walgreens, told detectives he knew they were aware of his other activity the night before.

Stover explained he used the money he stole from Walgreens to buy crack cocaine. He then returned to his mother's to smoke it.

"When asked to tell the intereviewing detectives what happened, (Stover) stated, 'I killed my mom.' Crying, he again stated, 'That's what I did. I killed my mom. We were talking, something was said, next thing I know was ... put my hands on her throat and I was choking her and that was that,'" Banach recounted.

In return for Stover's guilty plea, Banach dismissed several other counts of first-degree murder and the count alleging Stover robbed the Walgreens.

The murder is the most violent in a string of criminal acts by a man that Judge Tom Difanis called "dangerous" in 2005.

Difanis sentenced Stover to 20 years for holding up a Champaign convenience store clerk. Stover had pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery for implying that he had a weapon as he threatened the life of a clerk at the Colonial Pantry, 211 W. University Ave., C, on Jan. 30, 2005. The clerk handed over cash as he sounded a silent alarm that led to Stover's swift arrest.

Stover had also been convicted of armed robbery in 1997 and not long after his release from prison on that was convicted of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and sent back to prison. He had been free about two months when he held up the clerk at the convenience store.

At his 2005 sentencing, it was revealed that Stover had abused alcohol, cocaine and inhalants since he was a teen.

ORIGINAL STORY:

URBANA — A Champaign County judge will decide how long a Champaign man will spend behind bars for strangling his mother late last year.

But whatever sentence Richard Stover, 41, receives will amount to the rest of his life.

Stover this morning pleaded guilty to murdering his mother, Betty J. Stover, 60, on Dec. 29, in the home in the 1800 block of Sangamon Drive that she shared with her son, a multiple convicted felon.

Judge Heidi Ladd set sentencing for June 27. Because Mrs. Stover was over 60, Stover faces an extended term between 60 and 100 years in prison to be served at 100 percent.

In return for Stover's guilty plea, Assistant State's attorney Matt Banach dismissed several other counts of first-degree murder and a count alleging Stover robbed the Walgreens at 1713 W. Springfield Ave., C, that same day.

Stover was apprehended several hours after the murder and the robbery after leading police on a chase that ended near Mahomet-Seymour High School.

Police found Mrs. Stover on the floor of her home, covered with a blanket. Stover admitted using money from the Walgreens robbery to buy crack cocaine, which he used at her home before killing her.

He admitted to police that he choked her to death.

In 2005, Champaign County Judge Tom Difanis called Stover "dangerous" as he sentenced him to 20 years for holding up a Champaign convenience store clerk that year.

Stover had pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery for implying that he had a weapon as he threatened the life of a clerk at the Colonial Pantry, 211 W. University Ave., C, on Jan. 30, 2005. The clerk handed over cash as he sounded a silent alarm that led to Stover's swift arrest.

Stover had also been convicted of armed robbery in 1997 and not long after his release from prison on that was convicted of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and sent back to prison. He had been free about two months when he held up the clerk at the convenience store.

At his 2005 sentencing, it was revealed that Stover had abused alcohol, cocaine and inhalants since he was a teen.

Reporter

Mary Schenk is a reporter covering police, courts and breaking news at The News-Gazette. Her email is mschenk@news-gazette.com, and you can follow her on Twitter (@schenk).