Attorney: Grandmother Felt 'Threatened' on Night of Teen's Fatal Shooting
Hearing for 74-old-old Sandra Layne of West Bloomfield charged in grandson's death is postponed. Father says he 'relented,' when Jonathan Hoffman wanted to stay behind after family moved to Arizona.
BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP — The 74-year-old West Bloomfield grandmother accused of fatally shooting her 17-year-old grandson as he pleaded for his life during a 911 call spoke softly to a judge Thursday morning to authorize a delay for her preliminary exam.
Sandra Layne, 74, is scheduled to be back before Judge Kimberly Small at 48th District Court on July 2 after Small authorized a motion from prosecutors to test Layne's competence.
Prosecutors say Layne shot grandson Jonathan Hoffman, a senior at Farmington Hills Central alternative high school, multiple times Friday at the condo they shared in Maple Place Villas.
Defense attorney Jerome Sabbota denied allegations that Layne had pre-planned Hoffman's death by asking her 84-year-old husband to walk the family's dog before the incident. "If she was pre-planning, she should have done a better job than this," he said.
Sabbota said Layne felt "threatened" after an argument on the night of the shooting, but did not elaborate on the threat. "Obviously, there was some stimula," he said.
Sabbota disagreed with the prosecution's motion, in what Small referred to as an "unusual" situation.
"She knows who I am, she knows what she’s charged with, she knows what the proceedings are, she knows who you are," Sabbota said in arguing against a competency test for Layne. Sabbota said that the reason for the delay was to allow additional time for discovery.
Small gave prosecutors two weeks to file a motion on the competency testing before making a determination on their entrance to the record.
The victim's father, Michael Hoffman, was in court to watch the proceedings Thursday. Prior to the hearing, he said he allowed Jonathan to stay in the Farmington Public School district after the family moved to Scottsdale, AZ, last summer.
Hoffman's daughter, Jessica, had been diagnosed with a brain tumor after the move, he said. "I thought we should stick together as a family, but I relented," Hoffman explained.
According to Sabbota, Jonathan Hoffman's living situation with his grandparents unraveled at least in part due to his drug use. Sabbota said he believes Hoffman may have been under the influence of marijuana, K2 or Spice, Adderall and psychedelic mushrooms on May 18, the night of the homicide.
Court records show that at 10:38 p.m. March 17, Hoffman was stopped by Farmington Hills police at Bonnet Hill near Aranel in a 2007 Chevrolet Trailblazer and ticketed for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia — a marijuana grinder – after the items were found in his vehicle.
Hoffman pleaded guilty to the marijuana charge and the paraphernalia charge was dropped. His sentence included $790 in fines and court costs, and probation for one year — including 30 hours of community service, no alcohol or drug use and random drug tests.
Approximately a week prior to the traffic stop, police responded to the Laynes' home on the 6000 block of Brookview Lane in what West Bloomfield Police Lt. Tim Diamond referred to as a "typical parent/child verbal" confrontation. No charges were filed against either party.
Sabbota and Michael Hoffman both said Jonathan Hoffman knew Tucker Cipriano, the young man charged with first-degree murder in the April 16 death of his father, Michael, in Farmington Hills, but that they couldn't elaborate on the extent of their relationship. Cipriano reportedly smoked Spice the night of the attack on his family.
"They weren't friends, as far as I knew," Hoffman said.
Layne is being held without bond at the Oakland County Jail.