Guilty verdict reached in Minot murder trial

Published: Sep. 12, 2023 at 1:57 PM CDT
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MINOT, N.D. (KMOT) - UPDATE: A woman from Minot Air Force Base faces the possibility of life in prison after a jury convicted her Tuesday of killing the father of her child.

It took the jury of 12 roughly two hours Tuesday to return with a guilty verdict against 26-year-old Heather Hoffman.

Prosecutors say Hoffman fatally shot 22-year-old Alex Eckert last April at his northwest Minot apartment while confronting him about child support payments.

In his closing, Hoffman’s defense attorney Steven Mottinger called into question the timeline of events the state had laid out, of the night Eckert was killed.

“[Heather Hoffman] sure as heck couldn’t have been at the Wyatt Street Apartments at 10:30, 10:10 to 10:30, to when the pickup left. It doesn’t make any sense,” Mottinger told the jury.

Mottinger also questioned the credibility of Jesse Schroeder, an acquaintance of Hoffman’s who testified last week that Hoffman had him drive her to Eckert’s apartment that night, but was unaware of her intentions.

Ultimately, the jury sided with the prosecution, who said Hoffman had motive, means and opportunity.

“I would submit to you, ladies and gentlemen, that this was murder, beyond a reasonable doubt. This was [Heather Hoffman’s] plan. You saw the escalation. She was getting more desperate, more desperate. She was saying it at work, ‘Be better off if he’s gone, better off if he’s dead. I can say that it was self-defense,’” said Roza Larson, Ward County State’s Attorney.

Larson said she was grateful for the jury’s ruling but noted how difficult this case was, given the circumstances.

“In this situation, you had families on both sides that were invested, and in the middle of the whole mix is a baby, and everybody loves the baby,” said Larson.

Hoffman has been in custody since her arrest last April and will remain in jail leading up to her sentencing. Judge Gary Lee ordered a pre-sentence investigation.

Your News Leader reached out to the families of both Eckert and Hoffman, who declined to comment at this time.

Hoffman will be sentenced December 1 in Minot.

ORIGINAL STORY: A jury convicted a woman from Minot Air Force Base of murder in the April 2022 shooting death of the father of her child, after roughly 2 hours of deliberation.

The Ward County jury returned a guilty verdict against 26-year-old Heather Hoffman, in the death of 22-year-old Alex Eckert.

Prosecutors said Hoffman shot Eckert in a doorway at his northwest Minot apartment on April 22, 2022, in a confrontation with Eckert over a child custody dispute.

Hoffman’s defense called into question the state’s timeline of events the night Eckert was killed, as well as who had possession of the murder weapon at the time of his death.

Hoffman, who has been in custody since her arrest, will remain in jail, pending sentencing.

Judge Gary Lee ordered a pre-sentence investigation. Hoffman faces the chance of life in prison on the AA felony charge.

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