Woman accused in grandson's death testifies

Associated Press
Sandra Layne begins to testify in the Oakland County Circuit Courtroom of Judge Denise Langford Morris in Pontiac, Mich., Wednesday, March 13, 2013.   Layne, 75,  is charged with first-degree murder in Oakland County court. There's no dispute she repeatedly shot 17-year-old Jonathan Hoffman last year in West Bloomfield Township, even while he called 911 for help. Layne's lawyer says she feared for her life because of Hoffman's erratic behavior and his use of synthetic marijuana. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
.

View gallery

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) — A 75-year-old Detroit-area grandmother charged with killing her teen grandson is struggling to recall the sequence of events during the fatal shooting at her home.

Under gentle but persistent cross-examination Thursday, Sandra Layne took long pauses and sometimes cried Thursday, her second day on the witness stand. She admits shooting 17-year-old Jonathan Hoffman at her West Bloomfield Township home but says it was done out of fear.

Layne is charged with first-degree murder. Prosecutor Kelli Megyesi (MEG'-a-see) asked questions to emphasize that Layne shot Hoffman, dashed to the basement and then returned to shoot him again.

Layne testified Wednesday that her grandson was rebellious and had a drug problem. She said he demanded her car and $2,000 before the shooting.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

A 75-year-old Detroit-area grandmother cried and rocked in the witness stand as she told a hushed courtroom that she loved but was terrified of her teenage grandson who was involved in drugs in the months before she fatally shot him.

Sandra Layne sobbed Wednesday as she described the shooting last May at her West Bloomfield Township home. She told jurors that 17-year-old Jonathan Hoffman attended an alternative high school, used drugs and spent time with friends whom she didn't know or trust. He couldn't control his temper, destroying computer equipment and kicking doors and the car dashboard.

Hoffman went to live with his grandparents after his parents divorced and moved to Arizona. Layne said she "adored" the teenager but that their relationship changed when he started taking drugs. An autopsy revealed traces of the synthetic marijuana, known as K2 or Spice, in his body.

"Did you want to kill this young man?" defense attorney Jerome Sabbota asked.

"Of course not. I still love him," Layne replied.

On the day of the shooting, Layne said, Hoffman had flunked a drug test and was at risk of being sent to jail for violating probation in a marijuana case. She said he demanded $2,000 and the keys to her car. Layne said he kicked her and struck her in the head and that she tried to hide from him in the basement.

Authorities said Layne fired 10 shots, striking Hoffman six times, even as he was on the phone begging a 911 operator for help.

She said she had purchased a gun a month before the killing because she was afraid of Hoffman's friends. She told jurors she was "desperate and didn't know what to do."

Layne is expected to return to the witness stand on Thursday to face more cross-examination. She faces mandatory life in prison without parole if she is convicted of first-degree murder.

View Comments