Man gets 40 years for ’04 murder / Boner used ‘sleeper hold’ to kill his girlfriend — (The State Journal-Register)

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The State Journal-Register (Springfield, IL)

December 24, 2005

Author: CHRIS DETTRO STAFF WRITER

A 30-year-old Springfield man who strangled his girlfriend in their mobile home in 2004 will be 70 when the sentence he received Friday is completed.

Robert W. “Wes” Boner III strangled Rebecca Dyer, 42, with both hands while the two were on the couch arguing.

Boner told police he was agitated at the time of the slaying on April 2, 2004, but did not know why. Springfield police detective Jim Graham said Boner told him Dyer appeared to be suffering on the floor after he choked her, so he used a “sleeper hold” to “put her out of her misery.”

Graham said Boner identified himself as a martial arts instructor in a job application found in the Wedgwood Terrace mobile home at 3725 Peoria Road.

Circuit Judge Leo Zappa sentenced Boner to 40 years in prison for the first-degree murder to which he pleaded guilty in October.

Sangamon County public defender Brian Otwell argued for a 25-year sentence, citing Boner’s history of mental illness. He presented testimony from Dr. Terry Killian of Springfield, who said Boner had been discharged from McFarland Mental Health Center two weeks before the slaying and that Boner told him he had run out of medication three or four days before he strangled Dyer.

Killian testified that Boner probably was suffering from withdrawal from Effexor, an antidepressant he had been taking.

Boner has been hospitalized 15 times since adolescence for mental-health problems that included diagnoses of bipolar disorder, major depression and schizoaffective disorder, Killian said. Boner also told Kilian he took non-prescription drugs, including marijuana and LSD.

Sangamon County State’s Attorney John Schmidt and assistant state’s attorney Richard Wray recommended a 48-year sentence.

Schmidt said Boner made conscious choices to choke Dyer, kill her and then take her car and credit cards and travel to southern Illinois to visit an ex-girlfriend and her children.

“He knew right from wrong,” Schmidt said.

“He made a choice to treat her (Dyer) like an animal, then got in her car and fled to southern Illinois.”

Boner offered no resistance when he was arrested in Jonesboro the evening of April 4, 2004.

Schmidt said Boner has a prior juvenile adjudication for aggravated assault and adult convictions for attempted armed robbery and robbery.

Boner was sent to prison in January 1998 for the Sept. 21, 1997, robbery of a convenience store in Willisville, about 30 miles northwest of Carbondale.

“I would argue strenuously that his record does not reflect a history of violence,” Otwell said. “Our mental health system in this case failed Mr. Boner and failed all of us.”

Killian said Boner told him he went to the Springfield Mental Health Center and asked for medication on the day Dyer died. Killian said Boner told him he was refused because he had missed his “linkage” appointment, but was told he could get the medication at either the emergency room or a free mental health clinic.

Schmidt said Boner did not seek it elsewhere.

Dyer’s father, Jesse Dyer, said Boner had “disrupted our whole family” before breaking down on the witness stand and ending his testimony.

Dyer’s sister, Tina Kuvalic, said she has been a surrogate mother and surrogate grandmother since her sister’s death. She worries that Rebecca Dyer’s grandchildren are too young to remember their grandmother. Kuvalic asked the judge to give Boner the maximum 60-year-sentence.

One of Boner’s sisters, Melissa Handsbery, testified her brother was “a sensitive and caring person” growing up.  “He was not a violent person,” she said.

Graham testified that, when detectives were taking pictures of Boner’s face and hands, he told them he knew what they were looking for and that they would find no defensive wounds.

“He said he knew what he was doing,” Graham testified. “He said, ‘You’ve got to move in on them quick.'”

Record Number: 0000672396
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