A state highway engineer who says a television told him to kill his roommate was sentenced to 60 years in prison Thursday.
Ryan Klug, who admitted killing Cummins engineer Adaobi Obih on Nov. 17 in the River Stone apartment where they lived, received a sentence five years short of the maximum from Bartholomew Circuit Court Judge Stephen Heimann.
Klug was ordered to pay $8,043 in fines, including $2,875 restitution to the victim’s father, Charley Obih; and $5,000 to the Victim Restitution Fund, some of which will also go the victim’s family.
“The viciousness of this terrible attack went well beyond murdering an individual,” Heimann said. “It should be more appropriately described as a butchering.”
Klug will have to serve at least 28 years before parole could be considered, Bartholomew County Prosecutor Bill Nash said.
Klug pleaded guilty to murder, but mentally ill, as part of a plea bargain agreement April 3. The plea bargain stipulated Klug would receive psychiatric care while incarcerated in the Indiana Department of Correction. Indiana law allows a 45- to 65-year prison sentence for murder as well as fines up to $10,000.
Thursday, Klug told the court he intends to appeal the sentence. However, since Klug admitted his mental illness, the state could petition the court to keep Klug in a psychiatric institution at any time for the rest of his life, Nash said.
Neither the judge nor Nash disputed that Klug, 37, was suffering from mental illness when he choked, stabbed and slashed the throat of Obih, 26, after she returned from church Nov. 17 to the west side Columbus apartment they shared as roommates.
Her body was found two days later by an apartment maintenance worker after Obih family members reported to authorities they couldn’t reach her.
Klug left Columbus the day of the murder and was arrested Nov. 23 outside a bar in Galveston, Texas. He was extradited to Columbus and has been held without bond in the
Bartholomew County Jail since Dec. 11.
More than mental illness?
“The court is not convinced (mental illness) was the precise reason this crime was committed,” Heimann said.
Written transcripts from police interviews of family members, co-workers and longtime friends indicate Klug displayed racist and misogynistic tendencies, as well as bigotry, in dealing with others, Heimann said.
Klug felt women needed to be controlled and became uncomfortable when around people of different races, according to Klug’s longtime friend, Lutheran minister Jonathan Priest.
Priest was a defense witness Thursday.
Heimann read part of a transcript from an unidentified Klug co-worker which stated a black, educated, outspoken and independent woman such as Obih would be the type of person Klug would most likely resent.
Nash and defense attorney David Nowak submitted a joint stipulation of facts May 18 to Heimann, which allowed those transcripts to be offered as evidence as an alternative to calling dozens of witnesses.
Klug’s family had submitted statements to the court, so defense attorney David Nowak said he did not ask them to testify Thursday.
In psychiatric evaluations, Klug said that mental illness caused him to hear voices from his television, ordering him to kill.
‘Some kind of hatred’
But family and friends of the victim, most who flew in from her native Nigeria for the sentencing, talked about their frustration at the senselessness of the murder.
When Charley Obih, the victim’s father, took the stand, he was asked to remove his
sunglasses. As he removed the glasses, audience members could see tears in his eyes.
“What is the motive?” Obih asked the court while testifying. “I believe there was something behind it.”
The victim’s father said if a voice simply ordered Klug to kill, he wouldn’t have murdered her with such viciousness and intensity.
“There must be some kind of hatred,” Obih said.
Rather than answer questions, Klug chose to read a written statement in court Thursday that included a number of New Testament verses on forgiveness.
“I gained nothing and lost everything by what I did, but I can’t go back and take it away,” Klug said.
Nash described the recitation as mechanical.
“Remorse is an emotion, and there was absolutely no emotion in (Klug’s) statement,” Nash said.
Factors in sentencing
In outlining other factors for the lengthy sentence, Heimann noted:
A 2011 attempted strangulation of Klug’s legally-blind brother while the brother was sleeping
His involuntary commitment to a Michigan psychiatric ward following the attempted strangulation of his brother
Two documented incidents of battery against mental health workers, including sexual battery on a nurse
A willingness demonstrated at least twice to stop taking court-ordered medications and attending mandated therapy
Recorded denials by Klug that he has a mental illness that a psychologist and psychiatrist who examined him believe is schizophrenia, which is exhibited by abnormal social behavior and problems distinguishing what is real and what is not
Heimann also read a statement given by the defendant’s father, Ernest A. Klug, which stated: “It was a big thing for Ryan to say he had a mental illness, but I don’t think he’s really digested the truth.”
The sentencing hearing lasted about three-and-a-half hours.
After the sentencing, Klug was transported to the Indiana Department of Corrections, where he will be evaluated before being assigned to a state prison facility.