West Bloomfield Township Grandma’s Fate in Jurors’ Hands Following Charge of Open Murder in Death of Grandson

In May of 2012, 17-year-old Jonathan Hoffman was allegedly shot several times and killed by his grandmother, 75-year-old Sandra Layne. After being charged with open murder, Layne is now awaiting her fate as jurors deliberate.

Layne allegedly shot Hoffman, putting six bullets in her grandson as the two argued. According to Layne, her grandson used drugs and was prone to violent outbursts. A news article at Detroit News states that on the day of Hoffman’s death, he became violent and agitated after failing a drug test ordered by the court. 911 recordings were playing in court on Monday March 18; on the recordings, Hoffman is heard begging for help and telling a dispatcher that he had been shot by his grandmother. Jurors also heard Hoffman cry out during the call that he had been shot again, and a voice shouting “let go” as they listened to what appeared to be a struggle.

Oakland County chief assistant prosecutor Paul Walton told jurors during closing arguments that Layne was a murderer who “hunted down” her grandson in her condominium and killed him, “because he wouldn’t listen to her.”

Layne’s attorney, Jerome Sabbota, described Layne as a dutiful grandmother who was afraid of her grandson, because of his violent temper and drug use. He alleges that Layne shot her grandson out of self-defense and fear; Layne does not deny shooting her grandson, who lived with her after his parents divorced and were living in Phoenix during his senior year in high school.

On the day in question, Hoffman was allegedly extremely angry as he rode with his grandmother after failing a drug test and testing positive for synthetic marijuana, which could have triggered a violation of his probation. Layne testified that her grandson was demanding the car keys and kicking the dashboard. She also told the court that after she shot her grandson, she ran to hide in the basement, then came out and shot him again as a struggle ensued.

Judge Denise Langford Morris told jurors that Layne may be convicted of first- or second-degree murder, or voluntary/involuntary manslaughter, but that jurors must first consider the charge of first-degree premeditated murder. Ultimately, depending on the decision of jurors Layne could face anywhere from one year in prison to life without parole.

Michigan murder defense attorneys realize that there are instances in which an individual kills someone out of fear or self-defense, as seems to be the case in this situation. When drugs are involved, circumstances can become highly volatile. Regardless of the situation, it is critical that those accused consult with an attorney immediately.


If you have been charged with any serious or violent criminal offense such as murder or manslaughter, contact a skilled and aggressive Michigan criminal defense lawyer right away, who will work to protect your freedom and legal rights.