Mich. woman wraps up testimony in grandson's death


Associated Press

Posted on March 14, 2013 at 12:30 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 14 at 12:34 PM

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) — A 75-year-old woman admits she didn't tell police that she was assaulted by her teen grandson before she shot him six times, killing him in their suburban Detroit home.

Sandra Layne finished two days of emotional, tearful testimony Thursday in her first-degree murder trial. She repeated her claim that she felt threatened by 17-year-old Jonathan Hoffman, saying he kicked her and struck her before she retrieved a gun from her bedroom in West Bloomfield Township.

But on cross-examination, Layne acknowledged she didn't tell police about the alleged assault when they immediately arrested her last May.

Jurors asked questions. One wanted to know why Layne didn't call 911 after shooting Hoffman and running to the basement. She says she was "terrified."

Layne emerged from the basement and shot Hoffman again.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

A 75-year-old woman who killed her teenage grandson took long pauses Thursday and struggled to recall key details of the fatal shooting at her Detroit-area home.

Under gentle but persistent cross-examination, Sandra Layne repeatedly said she couldn't remember or couldn't answer a yes-or-no question. It was her second day on the witness stand after telling jurors that she shot 17-year-old Jonathan Hoffman because she feared him and couldn't control his rebellious behavior.

Layne didn't answer and began rocking in her chair when assistant prosecutor Kelli Megyesi asked her to acknowledge that she shot Hoffman, which is not in dispute.

"Are you OK? Do you need a break?" Megyesi asked.

Her questions were aimed at emphasizing that Layne shot Hoffman, dashed to the basement and then returned to shoot him again. Police said she fired 10 shots, striking the teen six times, even as he begged a 911 operator for help.

"It was running and screaming and hysterical behavior. I don't know the sequence of room to room," Layne testified.

She faces life in prison without parole if convicted of first-degree murder. Layne told the jury Wednesday that her grandson moved in with her in 2011 after his parents divorced and settled in Arizona. She said she felt overwhelmed by his drug use and choice of friends and bought a gun weeks before the shooting to protect herself and her husband.

Layne said Hoffman demanded $2,000 and the keys to her car after flunking a drug test. She said he kicked her before she rushed to her bedroom for the gun.

"Did you want to kill this young man?" defense attorney Jerome Sabbota asked Wednesday.

"Of course not. I still love him," Layne replied.


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