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75-year-old American Sandra Layne accused of shooting her grandson dead

Jonathan Hoffman, 17, was shot five times

James Legge
Wednesday 06 March 2013 19:57 GMT

A 75-year-old woman is standing trial in America, charged with killing her grandson, shooting him five times.

Sandra Layne is accused of murdering Jonathan Hoffman, 17, in May last year at their home in suburban Detroit.

Yesterday, the prosecution told jurors that the boy pleaded with a 911 operator for help as Layne repeatedly shot him.

Paul Walton, Oakland County's chief assistant prosecutor, said Hoffman "thought he was safe... Sandra Layne walks up and shoots him again. This time in the stomach."

Jerome Sabbota, for the defence, said Layne feared for her safety during an argument at the home in the West Bloomfield area that Hoffman shared with his grandparents.

An autopsy revealed Hoffman was shot three times in the chest, once in the abdomen and once in his left arm. He had traces of synthetic marijuana in his body.

Officers were called to the house two months earlier, when Layne told police she was having a trouble because her grandson was very upset and yelling, but no one was arrested.

Four days earlier, Hoffman was pulled over 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.

Layne is "not a murderer," Sabbota told jurors yesterday. "She was afraid. She felt she had no choice. Why else would she shoot him? This is a tragic case," he said.

Hoffman was living with his grandmother while his mother and father were divorcing and living outside Michigan.

"He was a troubled teen, her favorite grandson, and she took him in," Sabbota said.

In Hoffman's 911 call played during Layne's preliminary examination last summer, the teen yelled into a cellphone: "I've just been shot. My grandma shot me. I'm going to die. Help."

A few minutes later, he tells the operator: "I got shot, shot again. Please help. Help," before his voice trails off and a woman's shouts are heard in the background.

An officer testified at Layne's preliminary examination that when police arrived, she walked out of her home with her hands up and screamed: "I murdered my grandson."

A Glock 9mm semiautomatic handgun was found just inside the front door. Nine spent cartridge cases also were found in the house.

Layne is expected to take the stand during the trial.

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