FARGO — William Hoehn, who was originally ordered to serve life in prison for his role in the kidnapping of Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind’s baby, was resentenced on Monday, Oct. 7, to spend 20 years behind bars.
Hoehn appeared in Cass County District Court before Judge Tom Olson, who sentenced him on one felony charge of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and one misdemeanor charge of giving false information to police.
Hoehn pleaded guilty to both charges in connection with the death of 22-year-old LaFontaine-Greywind in 2017, who was pregnant when she was killed and her baby was cut from her womb.
LaFontaine-Greywind's baby, Haisley Jo, survived the ordeal and now lives with her family.
Brooke Crews, Hoehn’s former girlfriend, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to commit kidnapping stemming from LaFontaine-Greywind’s death. She is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Hoehn pleaded not guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit murder and was acquitted by a jury after a trial in September 2018.
At his October 2018 sentencing hearing, Hoehn was designated as a “dangerous special offender” by Judge Olson at the request of the prosecution. Prosecutors asked for the status based on Hoehn’s 2012 conviction in a case that involved serious injury to a child. The designation enhanced Hoehn’s possible maximum sentence from 20 years to life.
Hoehn appealed the dangerous special offender status, and in August 2019 the North Dakota Supreme Court found that the status was not appropriate and ordered a resentencing for Hoehn without the designation.
During his trial, Hoehn made reference to how much he cared for Crews and that his feelings for her affected his actions.
Prosecutor Leah Viste said during Monday's hearing that she hoped that by the time Hoehn gets done serving his time he will have realized none of his actions were done out of love. "There was no love in a crime such as this, for anybody.," Viste said.
Hoehn also spoke during the hearing and apologized several times to Savanna's family, many of whom chose to skip the proceedings.
Referring to Savanna's family, Hoehn said: "I think about them and pray for them every day."
Hoehn said he couldn't explain why the crime happened, but "Maybe she can," an apparent reference to Crews.
"With that said," Hoehn added, "the state is right _ this is inexcusable."
Hoehn said he has tried to take responsibility for what he did and he said he has been working at making himself and the world a better place by "trying to put good back in the world. I try to plant seeds every day."
Hoehn concluded by stating: "I'm sorry doesn't cut it, but I am."
Judge Olson said he did "not have to struggle much" in sentencing Hoehn the first time to life in prison, but since the state Supreme Court disagreed with that sentence he would have to change it, though he said he was still intent on sentencing Hoehn to the maximum possible, 20 years.
Olson stressed that Hoehn had helped to hide Haisley Jo for days days while knowing what had happened to the girl's mother and how much her family and the community was worried about her.
"I know the scars will be deep and permanent," Olson said referring to the pain suffered by the Savanna's family.
The judge also quoted testimony from Hoehn's trial, during which it was said that after entering his apartment and finding Crews had cut Savanna's child from her womb Hoehn had asked Crews: "Is she dead yet?"
To which Crews is said to have answered, "I don't Know."
Judge Olson then repeated, several times, what Hoehn is reported to have said next after having tied a rope around the young woman's neck: "If she wasn't dead before, she is now."