UPDATED 5:10 P.M.
FARGO - The fifth day of William Hoehn’s trial on charges of conspiring to murder Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind concluded with testimony form Bryan Grob, an inmate who did time with Hoehn at Cass County Jail.
LaFontaine-Greywind, who was eight months pregnant, disappeared on Aug. 19, 2017, after Brooke Crews invited her to come up to her apartment to help with a sewing project. Crews and Hoehn were charged with conspiring to murder LaFontaine-Greywind. Crews pleaded guilty and is serving life in prison without parole.
Grob testified that Hoehn told him he cleaned up blood and wrapped up LaFontaine-Greywind’s body in trash bags. He said Hoehn told him he then put the body in a hollow dresser and that he took the dresser out of the apartment building Aug. 20, 2017.
Grob testified that Hoehn told him he was not involved with the murder and not guilty of any “conspiracy,” and that LaFontaine-Greywind was dead when he walked into his apartment.
Prior to Grob, a former fiancee of Hoehn’s, Tanith McCloud, took the witness stand.
McCloud, who remained friendly with Hoehn in 2017, told jurors about a few instances in which Hoehn would visit her house after he and Crews got into an altercation. She said the first incident happened about Dec. 31, 2016, when Hoehn showed up at McCloud’s house.
A few days after that, McCloud said, Hoehn learned that Crews was pregnant - something McCloud said she confronted Hoehn about since Crews supposedly had her tubes tied.
The next incident happened about Feb. 14, 2017, when McCloud said a fight between Crews and Hoehn resulted in a restraining order against Hoehn. When she asked about Crews’ pregnancy, McCloud said Hoehn quickly changed the conversation.
McCloud said Hoehn was open-minded with a big heart but sometimes would be slightly racist. She said she would scold him if he ever made any remarks against Native Americans because she is one-quarter Native American.
She also testified that during intimate moments when she and Hoehn were together, he would sometimes ask if he could strangle her.
The prosecution presented the jury with audio recordings from phone calls and jail visits between McCloud and Hoehn.
During one phone call, McCloud told Hoehn that she is related to LaFontaine-Greywind. When asked by the prosecution, McCloud said she and LaFontaine-Greywind are from the same tribe and reservation.
When McCloud visited Hoehn in jail, he told her that he “made some poor decisions” partly out of fear and partly out of caring and couldn’t bring himself to turn Crews in.
“I cared about her differently than I cared about anybody else,” Hoehn told McCloud during one visit.
On cross-examination, defense attorney Dan Borgen asked McCloud if she would say Crews was very controlling. McCloud said yes.
UPDATED 3:37 P.M.
FARGO - Following the lunch break, two special agents with the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation testified in the trial of William Hoehn who’s charged with conspiring to murder Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind in August 2017.
Special agents Michael Ness and Jesse Smith helped comb Hoehn and Brooke Crews’ apartment for evidence after police executed a search warrant Aug. 24, 2017, and found LaFontaine-Greywind’s newborn daughter in Crews' possession. Police obtained the warrant after they learned Hoehn bought diapers at a Walmart.
Smith, who specializes in cyber crimes, did forensic analyses of several electronic devices taken from Crews and Hoehn’s apartment, including phones and laptops.
Web history gathered from the devices shows searches that were made between December 2016 and August 2017 related to birthing, like “birthing with confidence” and “how to get pregnant with tied tubes.”
Other searches included “how to make noose” and “Moses basket for baby.”
Web history also included North Dakota missing persons laws and Wikipedia searches for the Sodder children disappearance and Beaumont children disappearance - two cases from decades ago that involved missing children.
A search from August 2017 asked “how long does it take to pass out from not breathing,” and other searches talked about how a mother’s breathing affects the baby. Smith said it’s unclear who did these searches.
Ness checked for evidence in the bathroom at the apartment. He testified that little to no trace of blood residue was found there. He said repeated cleaning can cause blood to diminish from surfaces.
UPDATED 12:34 P.M.
FARGO - The trial of William Hoehn, charged with conspiring to murder Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind in August 2017, continued with testimony from the medical examiner who conducted the autopsy on the victim’s body a day after it was found in the Red River.
Dr. Victor Froloff, assistant medical examiner with the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office in St. Paul, told jurors there was a “sharp-force injury” to her abdomen, where an “out-of-hospital” cesarean section was done on the 22-year-old pregnant LaFontaine-Greywind.
Froloff said there were no signs that she was given anesthesia or that there was significant effort made to stop blood loss.
He also testified that the ligature rope found around LaFontaine-Greywind’s neck was “consistent with strangulation.”
Froloff said he concluded that the cause of death was “homicidal violence,” because he couldn’t say for certain whether it was strangulation or blood loss.
The medical examination showed LaFontaine-Greywind had no head injuries.
Prior to the lunch break, the defense called Dr. Brad Randall, a consulting forensic pathologist, to testify. Randall’s testimony was based on his review of Froloff’s report, which he said he “in large part” agreed with.
The court took a lunch break, and the trial will resume at 1:30 p.m.
FARGO - Day five in the trial of William Hoehn, accused of being a co-conspirator in the murder of Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, started Monday, Sept. 24, with testimony from the medical examiner who conducted an autopsy on the victim’s body.
LaFontaine-Greywind, who was eight months pregnant, disappeared Aug. 19, 2017, and was found in the Red River eight days later on Aug. 27. Hoehn and his former girlfriend, Brooke Crews, were charged with killing 22-year-old LaFontaine-Greywind and kidnapping her baby by performing a crude cesarean section. Crews has pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Dr. Victor Froloff, assistant medical examiner with the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office in St. Paul, performed LaFontaine-Greywind’s autopsy on Aug. 28, 2017.
Froloff testified on Monday that her body was in a moderate stage of decomposition when it came to his office.
He said he took hundreds of photos for the autopsy and some were shown to the jury as Froloff walked through his procedure.
Froloff testified that the ligature rope found around LaFontaine-Greywind’s neck was “consistent with strangulation.”
Prosecutors have said, however, that she died of blood loss.
Photos of LaFontaine-Greywind’s tattoos taken by Froloff were among the images shown to the jury.
“Everything (is) unusual about this case,” Froloff told jurors.