The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Features

March 27, 2009

2000: Orte gets 50 years in Decker killing

Editor’s note: This article is part of our series that takes a look back at our area within the last few decades. This article was printed in a 2000 edition of the Clinton Herald.



CLINTON — A Clinton man confessed Thursday to the 1992 strangling death of a 79-year-old woman and requested that his mandatory 50-year sentence be imposed immediately, putting an end to a nearly 8-year-old homicide investigation.

Kenneth Orte Jr.’s admission to killing Evelyn Decker came after he was offered a plea agreement by the Clinton County Attorney’s Office.

Orte, 32, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. He told District Court Judge David Sivright that he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol when he entered Decker’s home on the evening of March 17, 1992. While carrying out a robbery, Orte said he choked Decker to death.

Orte reportedly was employed to do “odd jobs” for Decker.

Shortly after the killing, Decker was found in a hallway between a bedroom and the kitchen wearing a nightgown with a telephone cord wrapped around her neck.

“I was responsible for all the crimes committed,” Orte said.

Four days after the killing, Orte was booked as a material witness. However, formal charges were not brought against the man until Clinton County Attorney Mike Wolf reopened the case last year.

“When I took office this was my No. 1 priority — to see this through,” Wolf said.

A grand jury indicted Orte for first-degree murder on June 18, 1999. Orte was scheduled to go to trial on the first-degree murder charge March 13.

Following his plea Thursday, Orte asked to be sentenced immediately.

The request prompted Decker’s family members to confront Orte.

“I just want Mr. Orte to know he’s caused much pain and grief over the last eight years,” said Decker’s daughter, Sandra Lewis.

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