News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

October 29, 2013

Man gets 50 years for 2012 manslaughter

Man had pleaded guilty, mentally ill for stabbing wife

TERRE HAUTE — A Terre Haute man has received a 50-year prison sentence after pleading guilty but mentally ill to voluntary manslaughter in the 2012 killing of his wife at their southside home.

Robert E. Spitler II, 57, was ordered to serve 35 years in prison, with 15 years suspended to formal probation.

During his sentencing hearing on Monday morning, Spitler apologized to Judge David Bolk in Vigo Superior Court 3 for his behavior at his arraignment following his arrest in September 2012. Spitler also apologized to his former mother-in-law, stating that he loved his wife, Shawn, calling her his soul mate.

Upon entering a guilty plea last month, Spitler acknowledged that he killed 50-year-old Shawn Singhurse Spitler with a knife in their bedroom. On the evening of her death, Spitler had tried to check into a mental health facility for treatment. Since his arrest, Spitler has been evaluated by mental health professionals and was treated for a time at the Logansport State Hospital after being found incompetent to stand trial. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Spitler has undergone treatment for mental health issues since 2008.

The victim’s mother and adult son were present at the hearing. The couple’s youngest son, Shane, read a victim impact statement to the court in which he called his father an outstanding member of the community and a deacon in church, who had prior mental health issues.

“I don’t think we’ll know what was going on in his him, and he may never know,” Shane Spitler said of his father’s condition on the evening of the homicide.

Spitler was arrested late Sept. 10, 2012, after he called 911 to report that he had stabbed and killed his wife. When officers arrived at the home in the 4400 block of South Eighth Street, they entered the home and found the victim lying on her back in a bedroom. A knife was on the floor nearby. An autopsy determined that she died of multiple stab wounds to the chest.

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