DECATUR — Robert C. Stagger, a 53-year-old man charged with repeatedly raping a woman after cutting her head open with a wine bottle and threatening to kill her with a knife, was sentenced Thursday to 18 years in prison.
Stagger pleaded guilty April 17 to one count of aggravated criminal sexual assault, a Class X felony, as part of a partial plea agreement. He is also facing charges of first-degree murder in an unrelated case in which he allegedly stabbed and bludgeoned 84-year-old Charles E. Hood to death in his eastside residence in November 2011.
During Stagger’s sentencing hearing before Circuit Court Judge Thomas E. Griffith, Decatur police officer Jeff Hockaday testified that the 40-year-old victim told him that the evening of Nov. 9, 2005, she and Stagger drank alcohol, smoked crack cocaine and engaged in consensual sex. After she’d returned to her home and fallen asleep, however, Stagger arrived at her residence. The two began talking on her front porch and ended up taking a walk, during which Stagger ordered her to enter a vacant house with him.
When the victim refused to enter the house, Stagger became angry. He struck the victim in the head with a wine bottle, punched her in the face several times, attempted to choke her and pushed her off a porch, causing injury to her left knee. He then forced her into the vacant house, displayed a 6-inch knife and sexually assaulted her four to five times over the course of several hours.
The victim read from her victim impact statement during the hearing, noting that the incident has been difficult to move past due to trust issues in addition to physical and emotional injuries.
“My physical injuries took a while to heal … As long as my physical injuries took to heal, my emotions have taken much longer. … My mother told me not to go out with (Stagger); I wish I had listened to her.”
The plea agreement stipulated that Stagger’s maximum prison sentence would be 20 years. Assistant State’s Attorney Elizabeth Dobson argued that due to the heinousness of the crime and his criminal past, Stagger needed to receive the maximum prison sentence.
“Based on the defendant’s criminal record, you can see a pattern of violence and disrespect toward women,” she said, referring to Stagger’s 1978 rape conviction. “I would suggest … to protect the community, he needs to serve a full 20 years. He has earned every minute of it.”
Griffith sentenced Stagger to 18 years, of which 85 percent must be served. In exchange for the plea, the state dismissed five other counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault.
Stagger will next appear in court June 14 for a status hearing on his pending murder case.
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