By CARRIE ANTLFINGER
MILWAUKEE (AP) — A sex offender suspected of strangling a 9-year-old girl in 1970 was ordered Monday to stand trial to determine whether he’s sexually violent.
Milwaukee police had reopened the case into Donna Willing’s slaying in late 2007. They interviewed Robert Hill, 73, in prison and say he admitted to killing and raping Donna in February 1970 but later recanted the confession.
Hill had been serving a 10-year sentence for allegedly sexually assaulting four children younger than 10 between 1995 and 2002.
Prosecutors have been unable to file charges in the homicide because biological evidence was destroyed or lost in the 1990s.
Recently, Hill was due to possibly get out of prison. So prosecutors are using the state’s sex offender law to try to keep him in a mental institution indefinitely.
A judge determined Monday that there was enough evidence for the case to go to trial. Prosecutors will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Hill is a sexually violent person and is likely to engage in sexually violent behavior again.
He was also ordered to have a psychological evaluation Monday, and a hearing was set for Feb. 11 to go over the findings.
Hill appeared by video from a mental institution, where he walked with a cane. He often fidgeted or rocked his upper body during the hearing.
Assistant District Attorney Holly Bunch called a Department of Corrections psychologist Cynthia Marsh and detective Kathy Spano to the testify Monday.
Marsh said she diagnosed Hill with pedophilia, personality disorder with anti-social features and, based on series of psychological tests, said he has psychopathy and sexual deviance. She said though some pedophiles are less likely to offend as they get older, she didn’t think Hill was one of them.
“He was still sexually offending when he was in his 60s. With him it’s been a lifelong pattern, and I just don’t see that psychological process that typically occurs in most individuals happening with him,” she said.
Hill’s attorney, Robert Steven Prifogle, argued he would be too old and frail to offend, saying Hill has emphysema, heart issues and sometimes uses a wheelchair.
Donna’s sisters, brother and other friends and family attended Monday’s hearing.
Virginia Davis, one of Donna’s sisters, said she had been dreading the hearing but it was easier than she thought, partly because she had heard some of details of the crime before. She did cry during the hearing.
“I wasn’t thinking about him. I was just thinking about she was just a little girl,” she said through tears.
John Willing, Donna’s brother, said he hopes Hill gets put away so the family can heal.
“The pain is still there. It’s not going to go away for a long time,” he said.