Murder Trial Underway
MINOT – The state says she did it. The defense says she wasn’t even there and has identified who they believe committed the crime. Opening statements Thursday provided a glimpse of what may transpire in North-Central District Court over the next several days.
Heather Hoffman, 26, has been held in the Ward County Jail since her arrest on April 27, 2022. She is charged with Murder-Intentional or knowing-Adult victim, a AA felony that carries the possibility of life in prison without parole.
The charge against Hoffman stems from an April 21, 2022, 911 call to Minot Police in which the caller reported an unknown male laying in the open doorway of a northwest Minot apartment. The call was made shortly after 12:30 a.m.
According to an affidavit filed with the court, responding officers found a deceased male with an apparent gunshot wound to the face and a .45 caliber shell casing nearby. A gun, .45 caliber, was discovered later about one block distant.
Slain was 22-year-old Alexander Eckert, Hoffman’s former boyfriend and father of a child with her. The affidavit states a “judge had recently ordered Hoffman to stop restricting Eckert’s access to his child and it upset Hoffman.”
“She wanted Alex out of the way. She wanted him dead,” said Assistant State’s Attorney Christopher Nelson in his opening statement to the court. “She purchased a .45 caliber pistol at the Minot Gun Show less than a month earlier, the same handgun that was found near the scene and the shell casing found there matched that gun.”
Christopher explained to the jury that Hoffman had the motive, the means, and the opportunity to kill Eckert.
Court Appointed Defense Attorney Steven Mottinger followed Christopher’s appearance, saying, “We believe it is much more complicated than that. Heather Hoffman was not in the vicinity when the shot was fired. She was at her sister’s home. It is our belief that Jesse Schroeder is responsible for Alex’s death.”
It was Schroeder who reportedly drove Hoffman to Eckert’s apartment and accompanied her to the door where the shooting occurred. According to the affidavit, Schroeder then drove Hoffman to her Minot Air Force Base residence, secreting her in the backseat of the vehicle while entering MAFB.
Several witnesses testified Thursday on behalf of the state, mostly law enforcement that initially responded to the scene or investigators who gathered evidence pertaining to the shooting. The trial could last into the middle of next week.