FARGO — Norberta Greywind, the mother of murder victim Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, took a long pause before she addressed the court during William Hoehn’s sentencing on Monday, Oct. 29.
"We want justice," she said, through tears. "I don't think this man should ever walk free."
Shortly after she gave her statement, Cass County District Judge Tom Olson sentenced Hoehn to life in prison with a chance of parole for his involvement in the kidnapping of LaFontaine-Greywind's baby, which was violently cut from her womb in August 2017.
Hoehn, 33, and his ex-girlfriend, Brooke Crews, 39, were each charged with conspiring to murder 22-year-old LaFontaine-Greywind and kidnapping her baby. Prosecutors accused the couple of planning to raise the baby as their own.
Hoehn pleaded guilty to the felony charge of kidnapping, as well as a misdemeanor count of lying to police, but maintained he was not guilty of conspiring to murder LaFontaine-Greywind. A nine-day trial in September ended when a jury acquitted Hoehn on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder.
The maximum prison sentence on the kidnapping charge was 20 years, and the charge of lying to police carried a maximum sentence of 360 days.
However, at the prosecution’s request, the judge ruled at Monday's sentencing that Hoehn is a dangerous offender, which enhanced Hoehn’s maximum potential sentence to life in prison.
Prosecutors asked the judge to sentence Hoehn to life in prison with the chance of parole.
Defense attorney Dan Borgen reiterated that the sentencing was on Hoehn's charges of kidnapping and lying to police, adding that the court has "to separate that Mr. Hoehn was not part of the murder."
Borgen said a pre-sentencing investigation by authorities suggested Hoehn should be given a period of incarceration followed by a period of probation, and Borgen asked the judge to sentence Hoehn to seven years in prison followed by five years of probation.
"Every day, I feel remorse for the pain I caused," Hoehn said in a statement during the hearing, in which he apologized to the Greywind family and the community.
As he tried to explain his actions or inaction, Hoehn said: "The short answer is there is no good short answer."
In an outburst in the courtroom, a woman yelled at Hoehn: "You're still a monster, and you still have blood on your hands."
During a news conference held after the sentencing, lead prosecutor Leah Viste said the state received the sentence it was asking for. Viste said Hoehn will be eligible for parole in about 25 to 30 years.
"This crime deserved the punishment that it got," Viste said.
Members of the Greywind family and their spokeswoman, high-profile attorney and victim advocate Gloria Allred, held their own news conference after the sentencing.
Allred said questions still linger about how Fargo police handled the case, including the search for LaFontaine-Greywind and her baby. "The most important question is how could the police have searched and failed to find Savanna's body and the baby earlier," she said.
Allred said many in the Native American community have expressed concern that police don't have the same concern for missing Native American women as missing white women.
She said the Greywind family deserves an apology from Fargo Police Chief David Todd.
Norberta Greywind said during the news conference that she was satisfied with the sentence given Monday. "We're ready to move forward," the mother said.
In December, Crews pleaded guilty to her charges, and she's serving a life sentence without the chance of parole. She testified during Hoehn’s trial that there was never an explicit plan between her and Hoehn to kill LaFontaine-Greywind, who was eight months pregnant, and kidnap her baby.
Important aspects of the trial included medical examiner testimony that could not pinpoint the exact cause and time of LaFontaine-Greywind’s death. In addition, the defense presented a timeline that placed Hoehn at the crime scene possibly after LaFontaine-Greywind had died.
LaFontaine-Greywind went missing from her north Fargo apartment on Aug. 19, 2017. Police found her baby, alive and healthy, on Aug. 24, 2017, in an upstairs apartment that Crews and Hoehn shared. Kayakers discovered LaFontaine-Greywind’s body in the Red River on Aug. 27, 2017.