MOUNT VERNON — Matthew J. Hoffman was indicted on 10 felony counts, including three counts of aggravated murder, by a Knox County grand jury on Monday.
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According to Knox County Prosecutor John Thatcher, the indictment alleges that Hoffman purposely caused the deaths of Tina R. Herrmann, 32; Herrmann’s son, Kody Maynard, 11; and her friend and neighbor, Stephanie L. Sprang, 41, on Nov. 10, 2010.
The aggravated murder charges further allege that Hoffman murdered the victims while he was committing the offense of aggravated burglary in Herrmann’s residence at 481 King Beach Drive, Howard. The indictment also includes an aggravated burglary count.
Hoffman could be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of life without parole, if he is convicted of the aggravated murder charges. Thatcher said the indictment does not include death penalty specifications, in accordance with the wishes of the victims’ families. The prosecutor’s office will release additional information about the decision not to pursue the death penalty immediately after Hoffman’s arraignment in the Knox County Court of Common Pleas later this week.
The indictment includes a kidnapping charge accusing Hoffman of taking 13-year-old Sarah Maynard from her mother, Tina Herrmann’s home after he allegedly committed the aggravated murder and aggravated burglary crimes. He is also accused of rape for allegedly forcing Sarah to engage in sexual conduct with him once in his home at 49 Columbus Road, Mount Vernon.
Hoffman is accused of tampering with evidence for allegedly removing some clothing and bedding from Herrmann’s residence to impair their availability as evidence in the investigation. The indictment also includes three counts of gross abuse of a corpse. Thatcher said these charges were filed because the victims’ remains were not intact when recovered by authorities in a hollow tree in a wooded area in northwestern Knox County, on Nov. 18.
In addition to the aggravated murder counts that carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, Hoffman faces the following additional possible penalties for the remaining counts:
•Aggravated burglary (first-degree felony): Three to 10 years imprisonment.
•Rape (first-degree felony): Three to 10 years imprisonment.
•Kidnapping (first-degree felony): Three to 10 years imprisonment.
•Tampering with evidence (third-degree felony): One to five years imprisonment.
•Gross abuse of a corpse (fifth-degree felonies): Six to 12 months imprisonment on each count.
Thatcher said a special session of the grand jury was convened to consider the Hoffman case given the number and seriousness of the counts charged. Typically, Knox County grand juries meet once each month to review many cases in one session. The grand jurors heard testimony in the Hoffman case for approximately six hours before making their decision, according to Thatcher.