Boyfriend of woman, who lured pregnant neighbor and cut out baby from her womb, found 'not guilty' by jury
If he had been convicted of the charge, William Hoehn could have been facing life in prison, according to police authorities
A North Dakota man who reportedly admitted to helping cover up the killing of a pregnant neighbor has been acquitted, according to reports. The man was acquited of conspiring with his former girlfriend to murder a younger woman last year and then kidnap her unborn baby, which was cut out of the victim’s womb, reported People magazine.
On the eighth day of trial, the jury handed down its not-guilty verdict to 33-year-old William Hoehn of Fargo. The trial took place on Friday in Cass County Court after the court deliberated for a day, local TV station KVLY reported. If he had been convicted of the charge, Hoehn could have been facing life in prison.
On September 4, Hoehn pleaded guilty to two lesser charges in the case: kidnapping and providing false information to authorities in their investigation, showed court records. According to reports, he will be sentenced for these charges at a later date and can face up to 20 years in prison.
Prosecutor Leah Jo Viste said that they did everything they could to provide jurors with enough evidence to begin deliberations, but it wasn't really their decision in the end. "When you choose a career in the law, you recognize that the whole ball doesn’t reside with you and that part of the process of the jury procedure in the United States is that peers get to make that determination," she said.
"I think that you can feel disappointed, but at the same time accept the process if you feel that you’ve gotten everything in [to the jurors] in the case. And in this particular instance everything was available for the jury to review," said Viste, an assistant state’s attorney.
Viste later also noted that conspiracy can be a legally tricky concept to explain, and Hoehn’s former girlfriend could probably have seemed unbelievable to the jurors.
Hoehn was charged with conspiracy to commit murder in August last year in the killing of 22-year-old Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, an expectant mother who lived with her family in his apartment building. Hoehn shared an apartment with Brooke Crews. Eight-months pregnant LaFontaine-Greywind was found dead in their upstairs apartment.
Crews, who is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty in December to conspiracy to commit murder and kidnapping in LaFontaine-Greywind’s death, said that she lured the young woman to the third floor and cut her unborn baby from her body last year.
As for the motive, Crews said that the pregnant woman became the victim of a desperate plan to obtain a child at any cost after Crews had announced to others that she was pregnant when she was not. But on Thursday, Hoehn said on the stand that while he helped cover up the killing after he came home and found Crews on the bathroom floor with LaFontaine-Greywind by her side, he did not conspire in the actual murder.
Hoehn replied from the stand, "Absolutely not. No, no, no," reported the publication. Crews testified that she didn’t "explicitly" tell Hoehn about her plans to kill the neighbor, but when he asked if LaFontaine-Greywind was dead, Crews testified that she told him, "I don’t know. Please help me,".
Meanwhile, a doctor associated with the case described the survival of LaFontaine-Greywind’s baby girl as "remarkable". She reportedly endured her mother’s painful amateur cesarean section in fairly good health. Now one, Haisley Jo Matheny lives with her father, Ashton Matheny, LaFontaine-Greywind’s longtime boyfriend.
Matheny, who took the stand earlier this week, said earlier: "I think about Savanna every day. I hope justice is served." Before her death, LaFontaine-Greywind wanted to be a registered nurse and was soon going to move into her own apartment with Matheny near her family. "We miss Savanna very, very much," her mom, Norberta, told the publication last year. "We show Haisley Jo pictures of her and tell her how much she wanted her and loved her."