On March 17, 2013, Paul Walton, the prosecutor against Sandra Layne a 75-year-old grandmother from Michigan, urged jurors to convict her of first-murder. Mr. Walton said that the Ms. Layne “hunted down” her teenage grandson in her Detroit home by shooting him 10 times in a span of six-minutes, even though the grandson could be heard making desperate pleas for help to a 911 dispatcher.
To recapitulate his case against Ms. Layne, prosecutor Paul Walton once again played the 911 call that was placed by 17-year-old Jonathan Hoffman last May, in which he said that his grandmother had just shot him. “I’m going to die,” he was quoted saying before he was shot again while the dispatcher was still on the line. While neither the defense nor the prosecution is arguing whether or not Ms. Layne fired the six shots that struck and killed her grandson in her West Bloomfield Township home, the question for the jurors comes down to: Should Ms. Layne, be held criminally responsible for the death of her grandson and, if so, how?
Ms. Layne recently testified that she was living in fear of her grandson and acted in self-defense. She continued by saying that she shot him after he had struck her, over an argument that stemmed from his demands for money and a plan that included him leaving Michigan. A noteworthy point is that Ms. Layne’s grandson, Jonathan Hoffman, had failed a drug test earlier that day in May, which could have been a parole violation. However, Mr. Walton focused the juror’s attention on the fact that Ms. Layne did not report any injuries to the police when they arrived at her home after the shooting. “Not I was afraid, I acted in self defense, he came after me,” prosecutor Walton said. Instead, he continued, “I murdered. I shot. I killed – those are her first statements to law enforcement. …She hunted down Jonathan Hoffman because he wouldn’t listen.” Finally, Mr. Walton concluded by calling the incident a “massacre.”
On the other hand, defense attorney Jerome Sabbota encouraged jurors to acquit the 75-year-old grandmother by asking them to view the incident through Ms. Layne’s perspective. Mr. Sabbota argued that Ms. Layne was taking care of a teenager who had a drug history and had brought strangers to her home in the past. Mr. Sabbota attempted to convince jurors that Ms. Layne lacked an incentive to murder her grandson asking “Is there really a motive to murder her grandson? What does she gain?” “Mr. Sabotta went onto say, “She killed a child she was trying to protect and trying to save. That’s a tragedy. Only one reason she did what she did: fear.”
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