News From Terre Haute, Indiana

September 27, 2013

Spitler pleads guilty to killing wife

Agreement calls for 50-year sentence


The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — A Terre Haute man has pleaded guilty but mentally ill to voluntary manslaughter in the 2012 killing of his wife at their southside home.

Robert E. Spitler II, 57, acknowledged in Vigo Superior Court 3 on Thursday afternoon that he killed 50-year-old Shawn Singhurse Spitler with a knife in their bedroom.

The plea agreement called for a 50-year prison sentence on the class-A felony. The first 35 years of the sentenced will be served in prison, with the remaining 15 years suspended to formal probation. Spitler will receive credit for more than a year of jail time served since his arrest on a murder charge.

Judge David Bolk accepted Spitler’s plea after repeatedly questioning the defendant about his understanding of the court hearing and his use of medication prescribed to treat mental illness.

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 had undergone treatment for mental health issues since 2008.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Rob Roberts told Bolk the plea agreement had been reviewed with family members of Shawn Spitler, and they agreed with the resolution of the case, with emphasis that the defendant receive ongoing treatment while he is on probation. The victim’s mother and adult son were present at the hearing, as was the defendant’s sister. They made no comment during the hearing.

Bolk vacated a jury trial that was set to commence Oct. 7 in the case.

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.