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March 15, 2013

Grandmother takes stand in murder trial

By Eric Czarnik
C & G Staff Writer

Sandra Layne, the West Bloomfield woman accused of shooting her grandson multiple times and murdering him, took the witness stand and answered attorneys’ questions March 14 in Oakland County Circuit Court.

Layne, 75, talked about how it feels to know that her grandson, Jonathan Hoffman, is dead.

“It’s indescribable,” she said.

Layne is accused of one count of open murder and one count of using a firearm during the commission of a felony. If convicted of murder, she could face life in prison.

Prosecutors argued that Layne, 75, killed Hoffman, 17, at her West Bloomfield home May 18 on Brookview Lane.

During cross-examination, Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor Kelli Megyesi asked Layne what she was doing in different areas of the home during the incident. While responding, Layne rocked in her chair, sometimes sobbed and often answered with “I don’t know” or “I don’t recall.”

“I’m not trying to confuse you,” Megyesi said at one point.

Defense attorney Jerome Sabbota has argued that Layne was acting in self-defense. Layne, who took care of Hoffman while his parents were living in Arizona, said she originally bought the gun because she was afraid of some people Hoffman allegedly invited to her home.

In her testimony, Layne said she and Hoffman argued after he received a positive drug test result for synthetic marijuana. According to her, Hoffman feared he would go to jail, and he allegedly wanted to take Layne’s car and some money and flee from police. Layne said she made up her mind against that.

Layne said she originally fired the gun upstairs after Hoffman allegedly attacked and kicked her. Throughout her testimony, she described how she was “hysterical” and frightened at the time, and she added that she did not want to kill her grandson.

The prosecution and defense clashed in arguing whether Layne suffered injuries on the day of Hoffman’s death.

The prosecution called up Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital nurse Jennifer Colby, who testified that she examined Layne May 18 and didn’t detect any injuries. The defense said Layne asked for a juice box at the West Bloomfield police station and applied it to her head because it was hurting.

After Layne and Colby were done testifying, both sides said they were done presenting evidence. Judge Denise Langford Morris said closing arguments would begin March 18.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Eric Czarnik at eczarnik@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1058.