RACINE, Wis. (AP) - A southeast Wisconsin man who recorded himself sexually assaulting six young children gave a slight smirk as a judge admonished him for his crimes, leaving the judge taken aback for a moment before he sentenced the Racine man to the maximum 145 years in prison.
Alexander R. Richter, 30, had just apologized for molesting a 2-year-old girl and five other young children. He also acknowledged that his words could do nothing to undo the damage he'd caused. But the corner of his mouth turned upward slightly as Judge Timothy Boyle recounted Richter's comments to a pre-sentencing investigator.
"You said you feel sorry for (the children), that you ruined their whole lives. But you smiled as you said it," Boyle noted. He paused for a moment and then noted with incredulity, "You're smiling now!"
Richter pleaded no contest in September to four charges related to child sexual assault. In exchange prosecutors agreed to recommend a sentence of 80 years. A no contest plea is not an admission of guilt but is treated as such for the purposes of sentencing.
Boyle, who was not bound by the terms of the agreement, noted that Richter would be 110 by the time his sentence ended, adding that crimes as depraved as his deserved an even harsher penalty to ensure he died behind bars.
The strongest evidence against Richter were his own videos, which he recorded while molesting at least six children ages 2Â½ to 6. Prosecutors say Richter's pedophilic crimes began when he was a teenager and that there might be other victims who haven't been identified.
Richter even titled one of the DVDs the videos were found on "Monster Unleashed." It showed multiple scenes of Richter abusing three related girls and separate scenes with a young boy, the complaint said.
One video showed a naked girl crying and fighting off Richter, the criminal complaint said.
Boyle hesitated to even mention the DVD's title, noting that three anguished relatives of the victims were huddled together in the courtroom. The relatives declined to speak before or after the sentencing. One family provided a written statement to the judge, but he did not divulge its contents.
Before he was sentenced, Richter, clad in an orange prison jumpsuit, offered a quiet apology.
"I'd just like to say I'm sorry," he said. "It doesn't even feel like that should be good enough for the court."
Investigators say Richter, who was studying accounting at a technical college in hopes of joining his father's business, befriended vulnerable families and persuaded them to let him babysit their children. He then groomed the children for sex by buying them gifts and doing favors for them, the complaint said.
"What kind of person does that other than someone who's deeply disturbed or, as I said, evil," the judge said. "Even though you didn't kill anybody, you killed something inside those children."
Boyle noted that Richter's youngest victim, a 2Â½-year-old girl, was still in diapers when he molested her. The comment drew sobs from one woman in the court.
Neither Richter nor his public defender, Margaret Johnson, objected to the allegations listed by the judge or prosecutor Robert Repischak.
Investigators said Richter was caught after a 6-year-old boy told his mother that Richter had abused the boy and his 4-year-old sister.
When detectives served Richter with a search warrant, he told them, "I'll save you time, the things you are looking for are under the coffee table," according to the complaint.
Officers found DVDs and camera equipment.
Richter originally was charged with 49 felonies, including first-degree child sexual assault, sexual exploitation of a child and possession of child pornography. The charges carried a maximum penalty of 1,185 years in prison.