LaFontaine-Greywind murder trial set to begin Tuesday
FARGO — A little over a year has passed since William Hoehn was arrested in connection with the death of Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind.
On Tuesday, Sept. 18, Hoehn will stand trial on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder, one of several crimes Hoehn was charged with in August of 2017 along with his former girlfriend, Brooke Crews.
Hoehn and Crews lived in the same north Fargo apartment building where LaFontaine-Greywind lived at the time she disappeared on Aug. 19, 2017.
According to court records, Crews lured the pregnant 22-year-old to her apartment that afternoon on the pretext she wanted help with a sewing project and LaFontaine-Greywind was never seen alive again. Her body was found in the Red River nine days later.
Crews was sentenced in February to life in prison without parole after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit murder.
She admitted to involvement in LaFontaine-Greywind's death and to cutting her infant daughter from her womb.
The child survived the ordeal and was united with their father after Crews was arrested.
In September, Hoehn pleaded guilty to kidnapping and giving law enforcement false information. He is awaiting sentencing on those charges.
As proceedings moved forward on the conspiracy to commit murder charge, Hoehn sought a change of venue, arguing that widespread media coverage prevented him from receiving a fair trial.
Cass County District Court Judge Thomas Olson rejected the request.
Witnesses expected to testify at Hoehn's trial include tenants who lived below Hoehn and Crews' apartment.
Rhonda Grimli reported hearing banging and scratching the afternoon of LaFontaine-Greywind's disappearance and she and her family are subpoenaed to testify.
"Noises we heard just scraping, kicking, it sounded like someone struggling for their life," Grimli previously said.
In a recent interview, Hoehn said he came home from work to find Crews, his live-in girlfriend, cleaning blood from their bathroom.
According to court records, Hoehn told police Crews presented him with a baby and said "This is our baby, this is our family."
Court documents say Hoehn took bloody shoes and bloody towels from the apartment and disposed of them in a dumpster.
"I should've called police that night," Hoehn said.
In addition to Hoehn and Crews' neighbors, a former inmate at the Cass County Jail who crossed paths with Hoehn is listed in court records as a potential witness in the case.
Bryan Grob, 40, of Fargo, said Hoehn spilled many details on the case while they were both inmates at the jail.
Hoehn told Grob that Crews staged a pregnancy, something he reiterated in the recent interview.
"I was 100 percent blindsided. I was under the impression we were having a baby," Hoehn said, even telling co-workers and neighbors Crews was pregnant and that he never heard Crews talk about taking a baby from another mother.
He said he realized Crews was lying when he came home from work on Aug. 19, 2017.
"Maybe I'm a fool for it, but that's what I believed," Hoehn said.
Hoehn acknowledged Crews "had anger issues" but said he didn't think Crews was "crazy to the point of doing something like this."
According to court records, the prosecution is expected to call on several expert witnesses, including:
• Beth Bergeron, a midwife who has experience in observing and assisting in home births. If called, she is expected to testify on how someone prepares for home births, issues that arise with home births and other matters.
• FBI forensic scientist, Brandon McCollum, could testify as to how evidence is collected and analyzed, DNA analysis standards and procedures, and what analysis of evidence shows.
• Victor Froloff, assistant medical examiner with the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's office, can speak to how an autopsy is performed, collecting information from an autopsy and other relevant matters.
• Frederick Kieley, pediatrician at Sanford Health, could testify the medical process surrounding a cesarean birth, the impact a traumatic birth can have on an infant, and other matters.
Acting on a defense motion, the court has ruled Hoehn may appear in court in regular apparel, not jail clothing.
In his interview, Hoehn said he's "extremely sorry" and that the focus should be on the Greywind family.
"My heart goes out to the family," he said. "I do have things I want to say to the family and community."