Hambel sentenced to 121 years

Staff Writer Kate Wehlann

On Nov. 14, Joe Hambel, 30, was declared guilty of two counts of murder, two counts of felony murder and one count of criminal trespassing. Today, Judge Larry Medlock sentenced him to serve 60 years for the murder of Valerie Shelton Dicus, 60 years for the murder of Joe Hobson and one year for criminal trespassing.

The felony murder counts merged with the murder counts, resulting in only three charges being mentioned in the list of sentences.

Several family members of Dicus and Hobson came to speak before the judge this afternoon, including both of the victims' mothers.

"Those are my two children," said Teresa Lloyd, Hobson's mother, gesturing to three posterboards full of photos she brought of Hobson and Dicus. One photo on the boards was of Hambel with three of his children. "I want them to know the kind of father they had. They will not be proud of you if they even remember you. You killed my son in cold blood. You shot him in the back. You broke my family apart. You have destroyed our family."

"That was my only daughter," said Karen Shelton, Dicus' mother. "She didn't do things right, but she was a human being. No one deserves to be shot in the head like that. I saw her the day after you shot her. I saw what was all over her face [referring to the stippling caused by gunpowder being discharged from the gun at a close enough range for it to be embedded in Dicus' skin]. How could you do this to your Aunt Karen or your cousin, who you used to play with? You have torn our whole family apart. I don't know how you can do that to family. God will take care of you. You know that. Your grandma taught you.

"This is my only daughter," Shelton continued, "… and I've got her in a box. In a box!"

Hambel's parents also spoke at the hearing.

His father, Tim Hambel, talked about his son's dreams of joining the military and his gainful employment since high school. Hambel has been on disability following an electrical accident in 2015.

"He's been a model citizen since high school aside from one speeding ticket," he said.

He told of Joe Hambel's son, who's spent most of his life in Tim Hambel's custody, but who Joe Hambel made sure to be there for when he needed him.

"His youngest son [born four days after the murder] will never know his father without seeing him in stripes," said Tim Hambel. "His oldest son will grow up knowing what his father did. This has proven to be ahardship on him. His teachers and mentor make reports to me. We have him in counseling at Lifespring to help him move past this. Some children have made comments about his father to him. This weighs heavily on him … His son misses him more than I ever will."

Defense Attorney Mark Clark suggested to the judge that the sentences be served concurrently, meaning he would serve time for all three charges at the same time, totalling 60 years in jail. Washington County Prosecutor Dustin Houchin listed several aggravating factors that would make this case eligible for consecutive sentences. He requested a sentence of 131 years, the maximum the law would allow.

"I have great respect for the collective knowledge and thoughtful decision of the jury … I was 53 when I was chosen to be the voice of justice in this county. I was given that responsibility," said Medlock to Hambel, "not you."

Medlock told the court that he had, against the state's wishes, given the jury instructions that would have allowed them to find Hambel not guilty of murder or find him guilty of a lesser offense.

"They chose not to do so," said Medlock. "They found you guilty of murder, murder, felony murder, felony murder and felony trespassing."

Given that the crime was committed within the general presence of a minor, Seth Shelton, 15 at the time, and who testified in court during the trial, the fact Hambel was found to have threatened a witness, the nature and circumstance of the crime, the perceived lack of remorse and the way Hambel scoped out the Small Street home where he committed the murders, Medlock handed down the 121-year sentence.

"I think about Logan [Shelton, 25, who has some intellectual disabilities] when he came and testified at the trial and today," said Medlock. "He can't be included in the [presence of a child factor], but I can only imagine the strength and bravery to testify about what he saw and what he didn't. That was touching … [Hambel] put a bullet to the head of [Hambel's] cousin and six shots to Joe Hobson. I think about Logan. I can almost hear his voice on his 9-1-1 call and how upset he was, begging for help."

Medlock paused, shaking his head.

"I haven't seen any remorse. You've been stone cold sober during the whole proceding. You exercised your right to allocution and you said you were sorry for the pain this cuased, but there was no emotion attached.

"You took two lives, lives that didn't mean anything to you, but they meant the world to those who came to speak today."


For more details from Clark and Houchin and testimony from families, see this coming edition of The Salem Leader.


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