PHOENIX — An Illinois man was sentenced Monday to life in prison after
being convicted of murder in the 1988 death of a pizza restaurant’s night
Steven Michael Humelhans, 43, of Roscoe, Ill., was given a mandatory life
sentence with the possibility of parole after he serves 25 years for killing
25-year-old Eric Rice.
Humelhans was first charged in 1996 but the case was dropped due to a lack of
evidence. The investigation had grown cold until a witness provided new evidence
that led to Humelhans being charged.
He was convicted by a Maricopa County jury after a 15-day trial that ended in
Authorities say Humelhans and another man went to Rice’s work place, stole
money, put Rice in the trunk of a vehicle and drove him to the desert north of
Phoenix where Rice was killed.
Prosecutors argued at trial that Humelhans had confessed to his role in the
crime to his ex-wife, Heather Robbins, KPHO-TV reported.
On Monday, Humelhans continued to maintain his innocence.
“I have never taken another life. I would never take another life,” he said,
reaching for tissue to wipe his eyes.
Prosecutor Kristin Larish told Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Bruce Cohen
that Humelhans’ actions left Rice without the opportunity to enjoy key moments
in his life, such as attending the wedding of a child.
“Please remember that those are all things that Eric’s family cannot
experience with Eric,” Larish said.