West Bloomfield woman who killed grandson loses appeal

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Lansing — A former West Bloomfield Township woman convicted of the shooting death of her 17-year-old grandson is not entitled to a new trial and her sentence isn’t cruel or unusual punishment, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled this week.

The imprisoned Sandra Layne, now 76, appealed her conviction based on evidence which she claims shows she acted in self-defense when fatally shooting her grandson, Jonathon Hoffman, in April 2012 after an argument in her home. Layne, who had taken her grandson into her home in 2011 after his parents divorced and moved out of state, said the shooting occurred during an argument and struggle in which Hoffman kicked her.

A Court of Appeals three-judge panel which heard the appeal said Layne’s 20-40 year prison sentence falls within sentencing guidelines and does not constitute cruel or unusual punishment because of any health problems. Layne’s appeals attorney argued the judge did not take into consideration Layne’s age or lack of a criminal history.

The Appeals Court ruled Layne’s age and non-life threatening health issues were unremarkable factors.

Hoffman, who had violated his probation on a drug charge and was facing possible jail time, demanded cash and Layne’s car keys and said he planned to flee the state. She said she had bought a handgun weeks earlier because she feared for the safety of her and her husband from some of Hoffman’s friends who often visited late at night.

Layne said she went for the handgun after arguing with Hoffman and he had tested positive for K2, a synthetic marijuana, during a court-ordered drug testing.

“I wanted him to hear me. I wanted him to pay attention to me,” Layne tearfully testified at her trial. “That I would not give him a car. I would not let him take the car. I would not let him take the money. He had to listen.”

Evidence showed Layne shot Hoffman six times over two separate events, the last time when he was making a 911 call after being initially wounded. During the call Layne can be overheard offering the fatally wounded Hoffman a glass of water.

An Oakland Circuit Court jury subsequently convicted Layne of second-degree murder.


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