BISMARCK — Attorneys for William Hoehn are appealing to the North Dakota Supreme Court in hopes of overturning his life sentence in the kidnapping of Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind's baby.
Hoehn's defense team argued Tuesday, May 28, that when Hoehn was sentenced he was incorrectly labeled as a special dangerous offender because the crimes he pleaded guilty to did not seriously endanger the baby's life.
Prosecutors asserted that the baby’s life was in danger because Hoehn and his then-girlfriend, Brooke Crews, did not take steps to ensure the health of the child.
Hoehn’s defense team also argued that he had never been convicted of any similar crimes, and therefore the dangerous special offender status is inappropriate. Hoehn's status as a dangerous special offender was what opened the door for him to receive a life sentence.
"I do believe there was an illegal sentence," said Hoehn's attorney, Kiara Krauss-Parr. She asked the Supreme Court to instruct the lower court to order a new sentence in line with the maximum penalty, which, without the dangerous special offender status, is 20 years.
Prosecutors argued that evidence was sufficient to support a finding that Hoehn is a dangerous special offender, and said it was appropriate to use a life expectancy table in determining Hoehn's life expectancy for the purpose of sentencing.
According to court records, Hoehn had a life expectancy of 42 years when he was sentenced in October at the age of 33.
The defense argued that the lower court also erred when it failed to address Hoehn’s possible sentencing enhancement during his change of plea hearing on the conspiracy to commit kidnapping count in September 2018, adding that such an oversight should allow Hoehn to withdraw his guilty plea.
The prosecution said it's sufficient that Hoehn was informed of the possible dangerous special offender status and the sentencing enhancement that comes with it when a notice was filed in November 2017 regarding those issues.
The Supreme Court will rule at a later date as to whether a life sentence was appropriate for the kidnapping charge.
Hoehn's charges stemmed from the disappearance of LaFontaine-Greywind. The 22-year-old woman was eight months pregnant when she was lured to the north Fargo apartment of Hoehn and Crews in August 2017, where she was killed and her baby was cut from her womb.
Crews was arrested at the apartment while in possession of LaFontaine-Greywind's newborn daughter, Haisley Jo, and LaFontaine-Greywind's body was found days later in the Red River. Crews is serving a life sentence without the chance of parole.
Hoehn pleaded guilty to a felony charge of conspiring to commit kidnapping and a misdemeanor charge of lying to police in connection with LaFontaine-Greywind’s death.