Second suspect in Savanna’s killing pleads to two counts; murder conspiracy trial still on
FARGO — William Hoehn pleaded guilty on Tuesday, Sept. 4, to charges of kidnapping and providing false information to authorities in the death of Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, but he's still scheduled to stand trial later this month for conspiracy to commit murder.
During a pretrial hearing Tuesday, Hoehn was ordered to be held without bail pending sentencing on the kidnapping and false information charges.
His conspiracy to commit murder trial is scheduled to start Tuesday, Sept. 18, in Cass County District Court.
Hoehn’s former girlfriend, Brooke Crews, pleaded guilty late last year and is now serving a life sentence for the murder of LaFontaine-Greywind, who was 22 and eight months pregnant when Crews, a neighbor in her building, cut open her womb and took her baby.
Hoehn’s guilty pleas come about three weeks after he took part in a jailhouse interview with The Forum, the first time he'd agreed to an interview since being jailed last August, shortly after the crime.
In the interview, he confirmed what court documents said he told police. In Hoehn's version of events, he came home from work to his north Fargo apartment on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, to find Crews cleaning blood from their bathroom.
Crews presented him with a baby and said, "This is our baby, this is our family," Hoehn told police, according to court records. Rather than call police that day, he took bloody shoes and bloody towels from the apartment and disposed of them in a West Fargo dumpster.
LaFontaine-Greywind’s body was found eight days later in the Red River. The baby was found healthy in Crews' possession.
Hoehn said he was convinced Crews was pregnant and “was under the impression we were having a baby,” adding that he never heard Crews talk about taking a baby from another mother.
He told The Forum he never heard Crews talk about LaFontaine-Greywind and said he knew “she had anger issues,” but didn’t think she was “crazy to the point of doing something like this.”
Hoehn has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit murder and according to court documents filed Aug. 30, the defense is asking to move Hoehn’s trial on that charge from Cass County to Burleigh County due to widespread media coverage.
According to a jury questionnaire received by the defense, three people out of 96 respondents indicated they were not aware of the case, court documents show.
Burleigh County was suggested as the alternative location since it is outside the Red River Valley media region, court documents show.
The prosecution has objected to moving the trial and the judge has yet to make a decision on change of venue request.
According to court records, the state plans on calling three expert witnesses.
Beth Bergeron, a midwife, is noted by the prosecution as an expert due to her experience in observing and assisting with home births, according to court documents.
If called, she is expected to testify on how someone prepares for home births, possible issues with home births and other matters.
Brandon McCollum, a forensic scientist with the FBI’s DNA Casework Unit, and Victor Froloff, assistant medical examiner with the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s office, are also listed as potential witnesses the prosecution may call.
McCollum could testify as to how evidence is collected and analyzed, forensic and DNA analysis standards and procedures, and what analysis of the evidence shows, court documents say.
Froloff could speak to how an autopsy is performed, how information is collected from an autopsy and other relevant matters, court documents said.
Acting on a defense motion, the court has ruled Hoehn may appear in court in regular apparel, not jail clothing, for his trial.