Barrington man who killed wife after coffee pot fight sentenced to 16 years
A Barrington man was sentenced to 16 years in prison Wednesday for killing his wife following an argument over a coffee pot -- a crime the judge described as "a horrible example of needless, senseless, destructive violence."
Lake County prosecutors asked for the maximum 20-year sentence for Larry Lotz, who was convicted of shooting his wife of nearly 40 years to death in January 2016. Defense attorney Robert Hauser had argued the 69-year-old Vietnam War veteran was in a dissociative state -- a result of post-traumatic stress disorder -- when he fired his .45-caliber revolver at Karen Lotz, 59.
Lake County Judge Daniel Shanes, who found Lotz guilty in August of second-degree murder, called the case "the height of domestic violence, which is a scourge in our society."
The sentence concluded an emotional hearing during which Lotz expressed love for his wife, pride in her academic accomplishments and remorse over his actions.
"Her loss has left a hole in me that can't be filled. Half of me died with her that night," sobbed Lotz.
Lotz said he and his wife were talking and teasing on Jan. 14, 2016, when Karen confronted him about a coffee pot he'd left on all day. He described what happened next as a "a maelstrom of rage (that) blew up in my head ... something popped."
Karen Lotz grabbed her husband as he tried to leave. He subsequently took the coffee pot outside, smashed it and retreated to a second-floor room in his garage that he called his "man cave."
Yelling at her to leave him alone, Lotz described the moments as "textbook crazy. I saw white." He said he put a gun to his head, pulled the trigger and "nothing happened."
Hearing a noise, he fired, hitting Karen, who had followed him up the stairs to the room, in the head, chest and arm.
The couple's twin sons, Curtis and Matthew Lotz, 36, testified their parents had a strong, loving relationship.
"He'd do anything he could for her. He'd do anything to make her happy," said an emotional Curtis Lotz. "It's inconceivable that he would intentionally do this."
After his mother's death, his father was "riddled with guilt ... a shell of himself," he said.
Both men said they noticed a decline in their father in the months before the murder. They say he became forgetful, paranoid and depressed, symptoms some experts attributed to early Alzheimer's disease, according to Hauser. He improved following hospitalization at a behavioral health facility and through treatment from Veterans Affairs, said Matthew Lotz.
Hauser described the sentence as "devastating" and more severe than he expected. He indicated to the court he would file a motion to reconsider.
Lotz must serve at least 50 percent of his sentence before he is eligible for parole.