A neighbor speaks out in support of grandmother convicted of killing her grandson

WEST BLOOMFIELD TWP., Mich. (WXYZ) - A neighbor of the grandmother convicted of killing her grandson speaks up in support of her and tells 7 Action News that she does not deserve to be in jail.

Gary Berger had been working on his hot tub when he was almost hit by one of the bullets Sandra Layne shot at her grandson.

"That one shot went over my head. I called 9-1-1 and I told them I hear gunfire back here," said Berger.

Berger has lived next door to the Fred and Sandra for 14 years. He was one of the last people to talk with 17-year-old Jonathan Hoffman before Layne killed him.

"I figured I would call Fred and find out if he heard the same thing, but the young man answered the phone and said: 'my grandmother just shot me in the chest,'" said Berger.

It's the same thing Hoffman told dispatchers when he begged for help.  Jurors told the prosecutor that the 9-1-1 call had been crucial for them finding Layne guilty. The defense claimed Layne shot Hoffman in self defense after he kicked her in the chest and hit her in the head.   

"I think Sandra Layne got a bad deal on this," said Berger.

Berger blames Hoffman's parents for what happened because Hoffman had been in trouble with drugs in the months leading up to the shooting. The teen had been staying with his grandparents to finish out high school after his parents moved to Arizona.    

"To leave this young man who had a past bad track record of drug abuse and pawn him off on two elderly people, is ridiculous," said Berger.

After court Tuesday, Hoffman's parents explained they were in Arizona for their daughter who has a brain tumor and was undergoing numerous surgeries at a hospital there.  For them, Layne got what she deserved.

"I just know my son is in heaven and that's a place she'll never see," said Jennifer Hoffman, Jonathan's mother.

"It's a final vindication for my son to restore his good name and reputation," said Michael Hoffman, Jonathan's father.

Attorney Jerome Sabbota said he will appeal after his client Sandra Layne is sentenced and after they see what happens on that sentencing day.

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