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updated: 8/8/2013 9:40 PM

Vernon Hills man sentenced to eight years for killing wife

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  • Lake County Judge Mark Levitt announces the verdict in Ronald Stolberg's sentencing hearing Thursday. He was sentenced to eight years in prison for involuntary manslaughter in the death of his wife, Rachel.

       Lake County Judge Mark Levitt announces the verdict in Ronald Stolberg's sentencing hearing Thursday. He was sentenced to eight years in prison for involuntary manslaughter in the death of his wife, Rachel.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Ronald Stolberg talks to his attorney, William K. Hedrick, during the sentencing hearing Thursday in Waukegan. The Vernon Hills man was found guilty in May of involuntary manslaughter in the death of his wife, Rachel.

       Ronald Stolberg talks to his attorney, William K. Hedrick, during the sentencing hearing Thursday in Waukegan. The Vernon Hills man was found guilty in May of involuntary manslaughter in the death of his wife, Rachel.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Defense attorney William K. Hedrick reads Ronald Stolberg's statement from a letter Stolberg wrote.

       Defense attorney William K. Hedrick reads Ronald Stolberg's statement from a letter Stolberg wrote.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Ronald Stolberg listens to arguments during his sentencing hearing Thursday in Waukegan. He was sentenced to eight years in prison for involuntary manslaughter in the 2011 death of his wife, Rachel.

       Ronald Stolberg listens to arguments during his sentencing hearing Thursday in Waukegan. He was sentenced to eight years in prison for involuntary manslaughter in the 2011 death of his wife, Rachel.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Defense attorney William Hedrick makes several motions during Ronald Stolberg's sentencing hearing Thursday in Waukegan.

       Defense attorney William Hedrick makes several motions during Ronald Stolberg's sentencing hearing Thursday in Waukegan.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Lake County Assistant State's Attorney Scott Hoffert makes his closing statement during Ronald Stolberg's sentencing hearing Thursday in Waukegan. Stolberg received eight years in prison for involuntary manslaughter in the death of his wife, Rachel.

       Lake County Assistant State's Attorney Scott Hoffert makes his closing statement during Ronald Stolberg's sentencing hearing Thursday in Waukegan. Stolberg received eight years in prison for involuntary manslaughter in the death of his wife, Rachel.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Ronald Stolberg, left, sits with his attorneys William Hedrick and Kevin Rosner during his sentencing hearing Thursday in Waukegan.

       Ronald Stolberg, left, sits with his attorneys William Hedrick and Kevin Rosner during his sentencing hearing Thursday in Waukegan.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Defense attorney Kevin Rosner gives closing arguments during Ronald Stolberg's sentencing hearing Thursday in Waukegan.

       Defense attorney Kevin Rosner gives closing arguments during Ronald Stolberg's sentencing hearing Thursday in Waukegan.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

 
 

Calling Ronald Stolberg a "selfish, petulant" man, a Lake County judge sentenced him to eight years in prison Thursday for killing his wife more than two years ago.

Aside from nervously biting his finger, the 49-year-old Stolberg didn't flinch when Judge Mark Levitt announced the sentence in Lake County court.

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The decision comes after Stolberg was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for killing Rachel Stolberg in their Vernon Hills home in July 2011.

"We are clearly disappointed at the decision," defense attorney William Hedrick said after the hearing. "We were hoping for probation, but the judge gave us a tremendous trial and the verdict was what it was."

By law, Stolberg will receive day-for-day good time while serving his sentence at the Illinois Department of Corrections, prosecutor Scott Hoffert said. He added that involuntary manslaughter against a family member results in a 50 percent sentence, and Stolberg has already logged more than 380 days behind bars.

Stolberg declined to make a statement to Levitt during the two-hour sentencing hearing. However, Hedrick did read a written statement that he said Stolberg wrote to his wife.

"I'm sorry I couldn't have taken better care of you Rachel," Hedrick read into the record. "When you left, I was in great pain. I will always love you."

The statement left the judge unmoved, and prompted Levitt to say Stolberg has "a reluctance to accept authority," and that his actions in killing his wife was "extraordinarily reckless."

"You will do what you want, when you want," Levitt said. "You have no regard for anyone or anything that stands in your way."

A Lake County jury found Ronald Stolberg guilty of involuntary manslaughter during his trial in May.

The jury also ruled Stolberg was not guilty of first-degree murder of Rachel Stolberg in their home in the 300 block of Farmington Lane. Had he been found guilty of murder, he could have been sentenced up to 60 years in prison.

Prosecutors claimed during the trial that Stolberg became so irritated, sleep-deprived and frustrated with his mentally ill wife that he lashed out at her in their bedroom after she poked him awake for the fourth time in the hours before her death.

Prosecutors said the electrical engineer grabbed his wife by the arm, dragged her onto the hardwood floor near the front room of their townhouse, put his knee on her back and crushed her into the floor.

The move drove the air out of Rachel Stolberg, authorities said, and caused her to die of traumatic asphyxiation.

But, Hedrick and fellow defense attorney Kevin Rozner successfully argued in May that prosecutors were not able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Ronald Stolberg had intentionally killed Rachel when he climbed on top of her. They argued that pathologists who performed autopsy could not come up with a clear reason why she had died.

Rachel's sister, Debbie Clark, said during Thursday's hearing that her life changed two years ago, and that Rachel was "always there for me."

"I will never hear her beautiful laugh or feel her warm embrace again here on Earth," she said. "My life is forever changed since she was stolen from me."

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