A Richland apartment maintenance worker was sentenced Friday to a minimum of 24 1/2 years in prison for beating and raping a resident in the complex where he worked.
Cody Joseph Kloepper, 33, could spend the rest of his life behind bars after Judge Carrie Runge sentenced him in Benton County Superior Court for first-degree rape, first-degree assault and first-degree burglary.
His attorney handed the judge a notice of appeal immediately after Kloepper was sentenced.
The judge followed the sentencing recommendation of deputy prosecutor Terry Bloor, who told her the recommendation might seem harsh but that what Kloepper did was so horrific that he deserved it.
Kloepper was convicted by a jury last month in the December 2009 attack of a 48-year-old woman living at The Villas at Meadow Springs.
During the trial, prosecutors said Kloepper used his master key to gain access to the lock box that held keys to all 286 apartments at the south Richland complex.
He entered her locked apartment at 4 a.m. and repeatedly hit her in the head with a metal bar and then raped her, according to the prosecution during the five-day trial.
She fought back, suffering a shattered arm and broken wrist, and needed 43 stitches in her head.
The victim testified during the trial, saying at one point that she didn't want this to happen to someone not as strong as she was, Bloor said.
She is 5 feet tall and weighs about 100 pounds, "but as far as courage and fortitude," she is strong, he said.
"The case bothers me," said defense attorney Dan Arnold.
Letters were submitted in Kloepper's support, describing him as never violent, always sweet and always helpful, Arnold said. Kloepper also was gracious to his attorney after the guilty verdict, Arnold said.
In addition, he had no history of violent crime, Arnold said. He did have marijuana possession on his record.
The judge agreed with Bloor that what the victim "went through was horrific."
The crime damaged not only her, but her parents and Kloepper's mother, wife and children, she said.
"I truly do feel bad for (the victim) and her family," Kloepper said, speaking briefly during the sentencing hearing. "I hope they can have a happy and prosperous life."
The victim did not attend the hearing.
After the attack she moved in with her parents, who are 77 and 79. In a letter for the presentence investigation, she described her parents as additional victims of the crime as they "watch over me and comfort me as we heal through this ordeal," she said.
The woman's arms and hands are slightly, yet permanently disabled, and she still is ashamed and embarrassed at the story she has to recount when someone asks her about her hands.
"I am still not sure how to deal with the resulting anger, or how to best deal with my feelings of frustration that this so horribly hurt and traumatized my parents," the woman wrote.
Kloepper is not taking his responsibility seriously for the damage he inflicted, she wrote.
Kloepper continues to maintain his innocence.
Under the sentence imposed Friday, the state's indeterminate sentencing review board will decide if he can be released after 241/2 years. The board could keep him in prison the rest of his life. He also is barred from contacting the victim for the rest of his life.