A 74-year-old Michigan woman accused of shooting her teenage grandson at their suburban Detroit home will stand trial on murder and firearms charges, a judge ruled Monday after a police officer testified the woman emerged from the home screaming, "I murdered my grandson."
Sandra Layne is accused of repeatedly shooting 17-year-old Jonathan Hoffman on May 18 at the West Bloomfield Township condo that she and her husband shared with the teen. Her attorney said she acted in self-defense.
"This was a child who was dumped on her," defense attorney Jerome Sabbota said, noting the teen's previous brush-ins with the law. "She killed a person she loved who she was trying to save."
The grandmother could face up to life in prison if convicted.
During Monday's hearing, prosecutors played a tape of Jonathan's call to 911.
"I've just been shot," he tells the emergency operator. "My grandma shot me. I'm going to die. Help."
The operator tries to keep the boy on the line, and a few minutes later, Jonathan began speaking again.
"I got shot, shot again. Please help. Help," he said, as a woman's shouts are heard in the background.
Arriving officers heard three shots inside the home and yelled for anyone inside to come out, Officer Derrick Kassab testified.
Kassab said Layne emerged from the condo with her hands raised and screaming, "I murdered my grandson." He said Layne was hysterical and kept asking officers how her grandson was doing.
Inside, police found blood on the floors and walls, and Hoffman lying on the floor on the second floor, Sgt. Joseph Spencer testified. Nine spent cartridge cases also were found in the house. In the master bedroom, investigators found ammunition for a 9 mm handgun, a magazine and speed loader for a magazine on a tray.
Deputy medical examiner Ruben Ortiz-Reyes testified that Hoffman was shot five times, including three times in the chest. The teen also had traces of synthetic marijuana in his urine, tests showed.
After the hearing, Sabbota said Layne was acting in self-defense.
"If you listen closely to the 911 tape, he's grabbing onto her and he's holding her. He's not letting her go," her lawyer said.
The senior at Farmington Central High School had at least two run-ins with police. Court records show Hoffman was pulled over March 17 in nearby Farmington Hills and ticketed for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. He later received a 93-day suspended sentence and was placed on 12 months' probation.
On March 21, West Bloomfield Township officers responded to complaints outside Layne's condo. When they arrived, Jonathan was outside. Layne told police she was having a hard time because her grandson was very upset and yelling. No arrests were made that day.
Jonathan was living with Sandra Layne and her husband, Fred, while his mother and father were divorcing and living outside Michigan.