Man found guilty of 2009 Richland rape

A former Richland apartment maintenance worker shook his head in disbelief when he learned jurors found him guilty of attacking and raping a woman in her apartment.

Cody Joseph Kloepper, 33, put his head in his hands and looked down at the table as the guilty verdicts were read in Benton County Superior Court for first-degree rape, first-degree assault and first-degree burglary.

The verdicts brought tears to the eyes of Kloepper's longtime girlfriend, who is the mother of his two sons. Kloepper's mother also sobbed as the jury was polled and she later yelled and swore when she left the courtroom.

The jury also found Kloepper used a deadly weapon while committing the crimes, which adds a mandatory three years to his prison sentence.

Kloepper could spend the rest of his life in prison for the December 2009 attack that left a then-48-year-old woman badly beaten.

He faces a minimum term of about 15 years when he is sentenced Sept. 15, said Deputy Prosecutor Terry Bloor.

"I'm very happy the jury saw the facts," Bloor said after the verdict was announced Monday afternoon. "I'm very happy they were able to analyze the facts and consider the victim and the victim's predicament."

Kloepper's attorney did not respond to a request for an interview.

The woman was attacked with a metal bar at 4 a.m. inside her fourth-floor apartment at The Villas at Meadows Springs. There was no forced entry into the unit, and the woman's door was locked.

The woman tried to fight off her attacker and suffered a shattered arm and broken wrist and needed 43 stitches on her head.

Prosecutors said Kloepper, who admitted being at the Gage Boulevard apartments that night, used his work keys to get into the manager's office and access a lock box containing keys to all 286 apartments.

Kloepper said he took a key to a vacant apartment in the D building and slept there because he was too drunk to drive home. Prosecutors said Kloepper took a key to let himself into the victim's apartment in the L building, where he knew the woman lived alone.

Kloepper took the stand Friday and denied attacking the woman.

The victim initially identified another suspect in the attack and the man was charged, but the case was dropped after DNA evidence cleared that suspect. DNA on the tip of a bloody glove found in the apartment was determined to be a match to Kloepper.

One juror who talked to the Herald on Monday night said there was a lot of discussion among jurors about the facts of the case, but the DNA evidence "more than anything else" prompted the guilty verdict.

The juror said they talked "in great detail" about the misidentification of the initial suspect and that's part of why it took so long to reach a verdict.

"We had to look at all the evidence. ... We devoured everything for a week," he said. "It was a hard decision."

Bloor said he was happy that the jury looked past the misidentification and instead considered the facts of the case.

He said he hopes the verdict will help other victims of assaults or rapes to report the crime, tell all the facts that could be helpful in an investigation and "believe in themselves."

Kloepper's trial began last Monday, with testimony starting Tuesday. The jury of six men and six women received the case late Friday and spent all day Monday deliberating.

Around 10:30 a.m. Monday, they returned to the courtroom to listen to the nine-minute 911 call the victim made after her attack. The verdict was reached around 3:30 p.m.

-- Paula Horton: 582-1556;