Sandra Layne, 75, enters the Oakland County Circuit Courtroom of Judge Denise Langford Morris Tuesday, Mar. 12, 2013. Layne is on trial for open murder in the shooting death of her grandson Jonathan Hoffman, 17.
(Photo: Mandi Wright/ Detroit Free Press)
By L.L. Brasier, Detroit Free Press
PONTIAC, Mich. - A grandmother who said she shot her drug-addicted grandson in self-defense was convicted Tuesday of second-degree murder in his death.
jury deliberated over parts of two days in the case of Sandra Layne,
75, who had been charged with open murder in the May 18 death of
Jonathan Hoffman, 17.
said Layne stalked her grandson inside the West Bloomfield, Mich.,
condo where they both lived, shooting at him 10 times in 6 minutes and
hitting him six times, intent on killing him.
As the verdict was read, Layne mouthed, "Oh, my God" to her lawyer and began to cry.
Outside of court, Hoffman's mother, Jennifer Hoffman, said her mother is a monster who deserves to go to prison.
glad she's put away and can't do harm to anyone else," Jennifer Hoffman
said. "He was a great kid and didn't deserve this."
She said she knows her son is in heaven, a place her mother never will get to.
Monday the suburban Detroit jury had asked to hear again a recording of
the teen's desperate call to 911 and even more shots while he was on
"My grandma shot me. I'm going to die. Help. I got shot again," Jonathan Hoffman told a dispatcher as he gasped for air.
declined to comment following the verdict, but they told the prosecutor
and Layne's lawyers during a private meeting that the 911 call was
critical to their decision, according to prosecutor Paul Walton.
said they played it over and over and over again" in the jury room,
Walton said. "One of the big things they said is when you hear the shots
on the (call) there's no struggle."
Layne had said she had bought a gun the previous month because she
was afraid of her grandson's outbursts. Jonathan Hoffman was living with
his grandparents so he could finish his senior year at his Michigan
high school while his parents, who were divorcing, had moved to Arizona
to get treatment for their daughter's brain tumor.
Hoffman had been using drugs and acting increasingly violent. He was on
probation after an earlier drug overdose landed him in the hospital and
had failed a drug test earlier on the day he died.
"She killed a
child she was trying to protect and tried to save," her lawyer Jerome
Sabbota said during closing arguments. "Don't compound the tragedy."
jury chose a conviction of second-degree murder, an intent to kill or
do great bodily harm, but decided the crime was not premeditated, a
first-degree murder charge. Michigan does not have a death penalty.
Layne is expected to receive the minimum sentence of 14 years in prison,
prosecutors said. But she could face as much as a life term.
A 14-year term is akin to a life sentence for Layne because of her age, Sabbota said.
verdict came after a two-week trial that brought up as many questions
as it answered. Layne had no history of violence when she shot Hoffman.
Other verdicts that jurors were considering included voluntary and
involuntary manslaughter, a felony firearm charge and acquittal. They
also convicted Layne of using a firearm during a felony, and she will be
sentenced at a later date.
Prosecutors painted Layne as a calculating and controlling woman,
angry that her grandson was failing high school and fed up with his drug
use and belligerent attitude.
Sabbota portrayed her as a loving grandmother who was growing ever more fearful of a teen out of control.
told jurors that Layne never rushed out of her West Bloomfield home
despite claiming to be afraid of her grandson and never called for an
ambulance to help him. She told police that she shot him after Hoffman
kicked her in the chest during a heated argument in which he wanted
money to flee Michigan because of the failed drug test.
pointed out that Layne never complained to police about being attacked.
A hospital nurse who examined her after her arrest said Layne had no
injuries and spoke lovingly about Hoffman.
Layne's husband Fred
Layne, 87, attended the trial and began crying as he left the courtroom.
His wife is a former teacher, mother of five and a grandmother of nine,
including Jonathan Hoffman and his younger sister, Jessica.
Hoffman's father, lawyer Michael Hoffman, said he was thrilled with the verdict and said it restored his son's reputation.
"It's been tarnished in a cruel way," Michael Hoffman said.
said his son and Sandra Layne were close, and the woman made "little
bubby potatoes and brisket" for Jonathan Hoffman, her favorite
grandchild. But Michael Hoffman also called her meddlesome and
He said he believes Sandra Layne killed her grandson in one last attempt to control him.
"She was always a thorn in my side," he said. "I never liked her."
Contributing: The Associated Press