MOUNT VERNON — Matthew Hoffman sat silently in his chair Thursday morning in the Knox County Court of Common Pleas, hearing the angry and bitter verbal onslaught heaped on him from family members of the three victims he had just pleaded guilty to murdering.
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The sentencing passed down by Knox County Common Pleas Court Judge Otho Eyster will send Hoffman to prison for the rest of his life, and hopefully will provide a bit of peace for the families of Tina Herrmann, Kody Maynard and Stephanie Sprang.
“I’m satisfied with what he got,” said Stephen Thompson, father of Sprang, at the conclusion of Thursday’s sentencing. “He got what he deserves.”
The arraignment on Thursday came just seven and one-half weeks after Hoffman was arrested on Nov. 14, at his home on Columbus Road where Herrmann’s 13-year-old daughter was found in his basement.
The bodies of Herrmann, Maynard and Sprang were found four days later after Hoffman provided the location to authorities.
After Knox County Prosecutor John Thatcher read the court indictments Hoffman was charged with, Bruce Malek of the Knox County Public Defender’s Office stated that Hoffman was prepared to plead guilty on all counts. Eyster repeated the charges of aggravated murder, aggravated burglary, kidnapping, rape, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse to Hoffman who each time responded “yes” when asked if he pleaded guilty.
“I will sentence you to prison today,” said Eyster, after Hoffman waived his rights to a presentence investigation. As Eyster read each charge, Malek offered information from Hoffman that backed up his guilty plea.
Thatcher recommended that Hoffman be sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Testimony from family members began with a letter from Hoffman’s 13-year-old rape victim, read by Thatcher. “This has changed my whole life. This is so sickening,” were the words she addressed to Hoffman. “But I’m not scared of you. I’m going to stand up for my family.”
She spoke highly of her brother, Kody, telling how he wanted to be a helicopter pilot in the Coast Guard.
Kody’s father, Larry Maynard, said Kody had a great heart and that Hoffman “does not have a heart,” and “you (Hoffman) have deprived America of a great human being.”
Maynard proceeded to read from Kody’s Bible, quoting the scripture, “whoever humbles himself as a child, and whoever welcomes a child in my name will be welcomed into heaven.”
An emotional Stephen Thompson, father of Sprang, spoke only briefly, unable to express a lot of his feelings. “Do you know how much you have changed everyone’s lives?” he said to Hoffman. “My heart is so heavy ... my mind is so blank. I know my daughter is at peace.”
Speaking of the love for her daughter and grandson, Barbara Herrmann told the court how her life has changed and will never be the same, referring to Hoffman as “a ruthless, selfish animal.”
She said Kody always loved playing jokes on others and said, “No mother should have to bury her baby girl and grandson at the same time.”
Kody’s grandmother, Esther Maynard, shared the grief she had gone through plus the happy times she has spent with Kody and Tina.
“They were always happy when they were with us,” she said. “We will never be able to express our thanks for all the prayers and kindness of everyone.”
When Sprang’s sister, Sherrie Baxter, challenged Hoffman to “hold your head up and look at me,” he did not. “We will never get our family members back,” she said. “Why should you be put to sleep? You should live with torture on your mind.”
At the end of testimony, Malek spoke on behalf of Hoffman, calling the events of Nov. 10 “a random burglary which went terribly wrong. No one was singled out. He [Hoffman] apologizes.”
As prosecution and defense rested, Eyster handed down the sentencings to Hoffman. He was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for each of the three counts of aggravated murder; nine years in prison for charges of aggravated burglary, kidnapping and rape; four years in prison for tampering with evidence; and 11 months in prison for each of the three counts of abuse of a corpse.
Hoffman then signed documents registering him as a sex offender. Eyster told Hoffman that if he ever gets out of prison, “and I will see that you don’t,” Eyster said, that he would then be labeled as a Tier 3 sex offender.
During a press conference following the sentencing, Thatcher said Hoffman will be transferred to the Ohio Correction Reception Center in Orient before being placed into a state corrections facility.