Judge gives probation to suspect 7 months prior to murder of newspaper exec


by Lauren Trager / News 4


Posted on September 17, 2013 at 8:41 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 17 at 9:50 PM

5000 block of Idaho

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 (KMOV) --Could a senseless death have been prevented if the killer had only been sent to prison for earlier crimes?

On Tuesday, a judge sentenced Rico Paul to life in prison for the murder of a man in 2011.

But News 4 has learned a judge had previously acknowledged that Paul had an extensive criminal history as a juvenile and still let him off after a brutal attack. That, some say, may have set events in motion that lead to the murder.

“It shook us,” said Ursula Rudolf.  Rudolf was devastated by the murder of her neighbor Paul Reiter.

“He was being the Good Samaritan, he went out there because he was concerned about his neighbor,” she said.

Police discovered Reiter shot to death in his yard in May 2011. He’d noticed a burglary in process and was dialing 9-1-1 but never hit the send before Rico Paul allegedly murdered him.

“It saddens me, it really, really saddens me,” Rudolf said.

Tuesday, Paul was sentenced for the murder. But it was far from his first time in trouble.

In 2010, he was convicted of a robbery and brutal assault of a store manager at this south city Walgreen's.

But while prosecutors wanted him behind bars for ten years, Judge Bryan Hettenbach offered Paul a fresh start and released him on probation.

Seven months later, Paul Reiter was dead.

“Do you think he should have gotten that second chance back in 2010?” asked News 4 Reporter Lauren Trager. “No, I don’t,” Rudolf said.

Rudolf said Reiter’s death should be a wake-up call to the entire justice system.

“I think the time has come when they really, really need to look at the way they are doing things and find a better way,” she said.

Judge Hettenbach couldn’t be reached for comment.