Crews denies telling inmate she cut baby from womb in under 3 minutes

UPDATED 4:17 P.M. FARGO -- The trial of William Hoehn, accused of conspiring to kill Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind in August 2017, concluded Tuesday, Sept. 25, after an extended break taken by the jury and attorneys. The trial resumed at 3 p.m. wit...
William Hoehn watches testimony Tuesday, Sept. 25, in Cass County District Court in Fargo, during his trial on a charge of conspiring to murder Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, a 22-year-old whose baby was cut from her womb. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
William Hoehn watches testimony Tuesday, Sept. 25, in Cass County District Court in Fargo, during his trial on a charge of conspiring to murder Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, a 22-year-old whose baby was cut from her womb. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

UPDATED 4:17 P.M.

FARGO - The trial of William Hoehn, accused of conspiring to kill Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind in August 2017, concluded Tuesday, Sept. 25, after an extended break taken by the jury and attorneys.

The trial resumed at 3 p.m. with defense attorney Dan Borgen questioning Hoehn's ex-girlfriend, Brooke Crews, about certain statements she made about the case to a fellow inmate, Jennifer Robinson, while incarcerated.

Crews has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder and other charges in this case. She’s serving life in prison without parole.

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Borgen asked Crews if she ever told Robinson that she had strangled LaFontaine-Greywind and removed her baby from her womb in under three minutes.

Crews denied making such a statement.

Borgen asked Crews if she ever told Robinson that she suspected Hoehn and LaFontaine-Greywind had an intimate relationship and that her baby might have been Hoehn’s.

Crews denied that statement as well, noting that she rarely spoke to anyone about the case.

The prosecution asked Crews if she was aware that Robinson was convicted for lying and providing false information to the police, and Crews said she knew that.

It’s unclear whether Robinson will be called to testify in this case. Crews was dismissed from the witness stand at the end of the day Tuesday, but it’s possible she might be called again to testify.

The trial is expected to resume about 1 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26.

 

UPDATED 12:55 P.M.

FARGO - Brooke Crews continued her testimony Tuesday, Sept. 25, leading up to a lunch break in the trial of William Hoehn, who’s accused of conspiring to murder Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind in August 2017.

Crews, Hoehn’s ex-girlfriend who pleaded guilty in connection with LaFontaine-Greywind’s death, testified that LaFontaine-Greywind’s body was in the bathroom closet and the baby was on their bed, covered by blankets, when police conducted initial searches of the apartment on Aug. 19, 2017. She said she and Hoehn had cleaned up the bathroom by then.

Crews said they moved Savanna’s body into a dresser Hoehn hollowed out, and early Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, they moved the body into their Jeep. Crews said she helped carry the dresser out of the building, but that Hoehn drove away by himself.

When police pulled Hoehn over on an unrelated warrant near their building a few days later, Crews said she had the baby with her in the vehicle.

She said she put the baby in a bag she was carrying and went into the apartment building.

LaFontaine-Greywind’s parents recalled the incident during their testimony in the trial, and said they asked the police to search Crews’ bag.

In the days following Aug. 19, 2017, Crews said she would ask Hoehn if she should take the baby down to the LaFontaine-Greywind family. She said Hoehn always said no.

Crews testified in court that Hoehn often discussed sexual fantasies involving raping women that turned into fantasies about killing women, but that she disregarded them because he was drunk. Crews said she was discomforted that as the fantasies progressed, the ages of the women also got younger.

Crews said when police arrested her on Aug. 24, 2017, after executing a search warrant at the apartment and finding LaFontaine-Greywind’s baby, she tried to “lie her way out of it” one last time.

Crews testified about how she had difficulty coping in the days following Aug. 19, 2017. “I couldn’t believe I’d done that,” she said.

When the prosecution asked if there were any discussions about what she and Hoehn planned to do, Crews said there weren’t any explicit plans or discussions.

When the prosecution asked Crews why she was testifying, she said she was trying to help the LaFontaine-Greywind family achieve some closure.

“I can't undo what I've done. But I can do everything in my power to own up to what I did,” she said.

The court is currently on a lunch break. The trial will resume about 1:30 p.m.

 

 

10:56 A.M.

FARGO - Brooke Crews took the witness stand Tuesday morning, Sept. 25, in the trial of William Hoehn, who’s accused of conspiring to murder Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind in August 2017.

Crews has pleaded guilty in the killing of the pregnant 22-year-old, and is serving a life sentence.

On Tuesday, Crews told jurors about the events leading up to and on Aug. 19, 2017, the day LaFontaine-Greywind disappeared. She was found dead in the Red River eight days later.

Crews, 39, said between December 2016 and August 2017, she and Hoehn had a rocky relationship that varied between “very good and very bad,” even getting abusive at points.

She said she began faking a pregnancy in December 2016 in order to get Hoehn back. The prosecution showed the jury extensive and detailed notes Crews took over several months leading up to August 2017, notes detailing a fake pregnancy.

On Aug. 6, 2017, Crews said she told Hoehn to be ready in case issues came up with the birth. She said Hoehn laughed and told her the doctors wouldn’t believe she was pregnant. Earlier testimony in the trial has indicated that Crews had her tubes tied.  

Crews testified that her delusion of being pregnant, one that she’d convinced herself of, came “crumbling down” and that Hoehn told her she “needed to produce a baby” after an argument.

Crews said Hoehn brought up LaFontaine-Greywind, who lived in the same north Fargo apartment building as them, commenting on how pregnant she was. Crews said she interpreted his comment to mean that they could have her baby.

Talking about Aug. 19, 2017, Crews said she went downstairs to ask LaFontaine-Greywind to come up and help with a non-existent sewing project.

She said she was having trouble working up the courage to do what she wanted to do so she began an argument that led to a physical altercation.

Crews said she pushed LaFontaine-Greywind whose head struck the bathroom sink and was knocked out. This seems to contradict earlier testimony from a medical examiner who said an autopsy showed no signs that LaFontaine-Greywind suffered a head injury.

Crews said she then took a carpenter’s knife from a desk drawer to cut the baby out of LaFontaine-Greywind’s womb. Crews said LaFontaine-Greywind was going in and out of consciousness.

She said the baby was out and LaFontaine-Greywind was lying next to her when Hoehn came home from work.

Crews testified that Hoehn said “What the f---?” and asked whether LaFontaine-Greywind was dead. Crews said she responded “I don’t know. Please help me.”

Crews said Hoehn came back to the bathroom in his underwear carrying a rope. She said he put the rope around the young woman’s neck, saying “If she wasn’t dead before, she is now.”

Crews said they both cleaned up the mess and wrapped the body in garbage bags.

On Aug. 24, 2017, police executed a search warrant at Hoehn and Crews’ apartment and found LaFontaine-Greywind’s healthy baby girl in Crews’ possession. The girl now lives with her family.

Tuesday is the sixth day of Hoehn's trial in Cass County District Court. The trial is scheduled to end this week.