MOUNT VERNON — Guilty.
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Matthew Hoffman uttered the two-syllable word this morning in the Knox County Court of Common Pleas for the 10 felony charges filed against him earlier this week by a Knox County grand jury.
During his arraignment, Hoffman admitted to the murder of Tina Herrmann, 32; her 11-year-old son, Kody Maynard; and her friend, Stephanie Sprang, 41; the kidnapping and rape of Herrmann’s 13-year-old daughter; aggravated burglary; tampering with evidence; and three counts of abuse of the murder victims’ bodies.
Hoffman Pleads Guilty (4:27)
Audio from Knox County Prosecutor John Thatcher press conference on Thursday, January 6, 2011 (29:22) January 6, 2011
Knox County Prosecutor John Thatcher read a statement from Hoffman’s 13-year-old victim that said she could hear Hoffman talking with someone but doesn’t understand why he won’t tell authorities who helped him commit these crimes.
Sprang’s sister, Sherrie Baxter, told Hoffman that while her family agreed to remove the death penalty, the gesture was not geared toward his benefit but to allow her family, and Herrmann’s family, to know what happened to their loved ones.
“Why should you be put to sleep? You should live with torture on your mind,” Baxter said.
“My kids are my world. On Nov. 10, my life changed forever. When you took Kody from me, a majority of me died with him,” said Larry Maynard, father of Kody and the 13-year-old victim.
“You are a coward, a spawn of the devil,” Larry Maynard said to Hoffman.
After entering his plea, Hoffman sat silently during the remainder of the proceedings but his attorney, Bruce Malek, read a statement from Hoffman.
“This was a random burglary that went terribly wrong. I apologize,” Malek said on Hoffman’s behalf.
After listening to statements from families of Herrmann, Maynard and Sprang, Knox County Common Pleas Court Judge Otho Eyster sentenced Hoffman to life in prison without the possibility of parole for each count of murder; nine years in prison for each count of burglary, rape and kidnapping; four years in prison for tampering with evidence; and 11 months for each of the three counts of gross abuse of a corpse. All counts will be served concurrently.
During a press conference after the court proceedings, Thatcher said he consulted with the family members of Sprang, Herrmann and Maynard prior to making a deal with Hoffman. He said an offer was made that if the location of the bodies was revealed, they were recovered and Hoffman admitted to guilt, the death sentence would not be included in the charges.
Thatcher said authorities believed at the time there was no hope of recovering the bodies, “in a meaningful period of time,” without Hoffman’s assistance.
Herrmann was reported missing on Nov. 10, when she did not show up for work during her normal 4 p.m. shift at Dairy Queen. On Nov. 11, her truck was found near the Brown Family Environmental Center in Gambier, and the case was labeled as a missing persons case. Three days later, Herrmann’s daughter was found alive in Hoffman’s basement. He was then arrested and charged with kidnapping.
A week after Herrmann’s truck was found abandoned, Hoffman provided authorities with the location of the three who remained missing.
Additional information from Thursday’s proceedings will be published in Friday’s edition of the News.