MOUNT VERNON — Knox County Public Defender Bruce Malek, currently the attorney of record for alleged kidnapper Matthew Hoffman, told the News he did not see a need for Tuesday’s scheduled preliminary hearing regarding the kidnapping charge.
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“It comes down to an issue of probable cause,” said Malek on the decision to waive the hearing. “Under these circumstances, we didn’t feel there was any reason to go forward with a hearing. We would have expected the prosecutor to put forth minimal evidence.”
The purpose of the hearing was to determine if the prosecution has ample evidence to continue holding Hoffman in the Knox County Jail under the $1 million bond set forth by Mount Vernon Municipal Court Judge Paul Spurgeon on Nov. 16. Preliminary hearings are held when cases have not yet been taken to the grand jury for an indictment.
Hoffman was charged with kidnapping after 13-year-old Sarah Maynard was found in his basement on Nov. 14.
The Knox County Sheriff’s Office is conducting the investigation into the murders of Tina Herrmann, 32; Kody Maynard, 11; and Stephanie Sprang, 41. The bodies of the three were found on Thursday after Hoffman alerted Malek to their location.
Malek would not comment on questions seeking information regarding a possible plea deal in exchange for the location of the bodies or whether or not Hoffman has confessed to the charge of kidnapping or the three murders. As far as Hoffman is concerned, Malek did say, “He’s doing about as well as can be expected of anybody on suicide watch. He has been very cooperative with us.”
Knox County Sheriff David Barber said the murders occurred in Herrmann’s King Beach Drive home on Nov. 10.
Once the investigation is complete, Knox County Prosecutor John Thatcher will determine what additional charges will be filed against Hoffman.
Once additional charges are filed, Malek said it could be up to the Knox County Commissioners as to how Hoffman’s defense proceeds.
In the event that murder charges are filed, former county public defender Rick Mayhew is available for consultation, Malek said. Mayhew is certified as the first chair for indigent death penalty cases. Malek said he is certified as second chair.
If a capital murder case is filed, the county commissioners would then be responsible in contracting for the case.
“Hopefully, these cases don’t occur very often. We believe that to keep an attorney on a retainer would be more costly than to use their services on an individual basis,” said Knox County Commissioner Allen Stockberger.