Attorney testifies as witness over child custody dispute in Minot murder trial

Published: Sep. 8, 2023 at 6:53 PM CDT
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MINOT, N.D. (KMOT) – A murder trial in Minot saw an attorney take the stand Friday — not one of the assigned attorneys in the case, but as a witness.

Kyle Craig testified for the state.

Craig agreed to take on 22-year-old Alex Eckert’s custody case when Eckert came to him before his death.

Eckert, who prosecutors said was fatally shot by 26-year-old Heather Hoffman, had signed an agreement that gave up his parenting rights, and Craig indicated Eckert did not realize the extent of it.

“He was upset, tearful, very, very distraught. From what I can tell, he did not comprehend those terms,” said Craig.

During Craig’s testimony, the courts played a lengthy audio recording of a confrontation between Hoffman and Eckert, where Hoffman berates Eckert and accuses him of not paying his share of child support.

On cross-examination, Hoffman’s attorney Steven Mottinger pressed Craig on the nature of the recording.

Mottinger: “The audio recording contains no threats of physical harm, does it?”

Craig: “Miss Hoffman says I will break your (expletive) jaw off and I consider that to be a threat.”

Mottinger: “Not the first time people have had arguments over custody and child support, correct?”

Craig: “This was one of the more severe ones I’ve listened to.”

The lead detective also took the stand Friday morning.

Minot Police Det. Elijah Hanks testified to a series of messages over Snapchat between Hoffman and another man.

In the exchanges, Hoffman expresses frustration with how the courts handled the custody case between her and Eckert.

“The defendant continues, ‘The only thing I’ve ever cared about is what’s best for her. All he’s ever cared about was hurting us and his appearance.’ Richie says, ‘I know you have, you’re a great mom.’ Defendant says, ‘No matter what I do, she loses her mom. And this is just not fair to her when it’s supposed to only be about her and what’s best for her.’ Richie says, ‘I wish I knew what to say. I’m sorry that the system has failed so hard.’ And she says, ‘Me too,’” said Hanks, reading the transcript.

Testimony is expected to resume Monday morning.

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