Sandra Layne, the grandma of Jonathan Hoffman, was convicted Tuesday of second-degree murder in death of her teenage grandson last May 18 in West Bloomfield Township.
Jennifer Hoffman said the verdict is “vindication” for her son whose actions and lifestyle were called into question through Layne’s testimony. Layne said she bought a gun because she feared the teen and his friends after he came to live with her during his senior year in high school.
Layne, 75, fired 10 shots, striking Hoffman six times. She claimed she acted in self-defense during a violent argument, but the jury rejected that argument and found her guilty Tuesday. She also was convicted of using a gun during a felony and likely faces at least 14 years in prison.
“It’s a final vindication for my son, to restore his good name and reputation, because over the course of the last nine months, it’s been tarnished in a very cruel manner,” Michael Hoffman said.
Jennifer Hoffman acknowledged that the teen had used drugs but said she wasn’t aware of any deeper conflict between him and her mother. The Hoffmans, who are divorced, moved to Arizona from Michigan and had their hands full caring for a daughter with a brain tumor. They said Layne had offered to take in Jonathan Hoffman for his final year of school in 2011.
“It’s really hard to comprehend that your own mother could do something like this to your own child,” she told reporters. “I just know that my son is in heaven, and that’s a place that she’ll never see.”
Layne wept quietly as the verdict was read at the end of the first full day of jury deliberations. As she was being led out of court, her wrists handcuffed to a chain around her midsection, some family members sitting with her 87-year-old husband, Fred, waved in a show of support. But she couldn’t make eye contact because there was a sheriff’s deputy in between.
Defense attorney Jerome Sabbota said Layne was “devastated” by the verdict and is sorrowful over her grandson’s death.
“She punishes herself every day,” he said. “The legal system does what the legal system does. The jury felt that it wasn’t appropriate self-defense.”