Published March 15, 2024

Harsh Sentence for Evil Act 

Written by
Kim Fundingsland
| The Dakotan

Murder Mom Gets Life  

MINOT – A lengthy sentencing hearing resulted in life without parole for Heather Hoffman, 27, Minot, for the murder of Alexander Eckert, the father of her young daughter.  

In announcing his sentence, Judge Gary Lee directed that Hoffman have no contact with her daughter for life, telling Hoffman, “You took the life of your daughter’s father, now I’m taking your daughter away from you.” 

Lee’s sentence followed a lengthy hearing that began with a victim impact statement from Ryan Eckert, Florida, father of Alex Eckert. Tears began flowing from Ryan Eckert as he took the stand for what would be an emotion packed 46-minute statement. The courtroom was eerily silent as the father spoke of his son’s fine qualities and the constant effect of his loss. He also talked about the trial that found Hoffman guilty of murder. 

“They lied under oath on two restraining orders that proved to be completely fabricated,” recounted Eckert. “Alex was willing to walk through hell for his daughter and Ms. Hoffman murdered him for it.” 

During the trial that concluded with the guilty verdict in September 2023, jurors learned that Hoffman and Alex Eckert were involved in a custody dispute. The State established that dispute was the reason Hoffman killed Eckert after orchestrating a plan to do so, including having her family provide an alibi. 

Hoffman’s mother, Diane, spoke to court, saying, “Heather is a sweet, kind, generous Christian who would do anything for others. She is also a victim. The system failed her. A lot of lies were told in court. It’s sad people can’t have a fair trial.” 

Heather Hoffman exercised her right to address the court, saying, “I know you’ve all been told tall tales about who I am. I can’t care about non-credible witnesses.” 

Defense Attorney Steven Mottinger, who announced an appeal to the court’s decision would be filed immediately, called the hearing, “One of the strangest sentencing hearings I’ve ever heard in my 44 years of doing this.” 

He added that his client has “some mental health issues that need to be addressed.” 

Mottinger asked Lee to impose a sentence of 50 years in prison, serve 35. State’s Attorney Rozanna countered that a life sentence without parole was appropriate. 

In issuing his decision, Lee noted that “nothing here today can take the pain away” and explained that a jury heard all the testimony, reviewed all the evidence in the case, and rendered a verdict of guilty of class AA murder. He also reacted to the defiant statements of Heather and Diane Hoffman that disputed witness testimony, the character of the victim, and contempt for the jury’s verdict. 

“Those efforts are continuing today,” said Lee. “None of this was believed by the jury. This was an intentional, premeditated, planned attack that ended Alex Eckert’s life. Heather Hoffman pushed a pistol into his face and pulled the trigger. This was a cold-blooded execution and Heather Hoffman did it. There is nothing to excuse Heather Hoffman’s evil.” 

Hoffman shot Eckert in the doorway of his northwest Minot apartment about 12:40 a.m. on April 22, 2022. During the trial it was established that Hoffman had purchased a .45 caliber handgun at a Minot gunshow, the same gun later recovered by police not far from the crime scene. 

Additionally, Hoffman secreted herself on the floor of a vehicle entering Minot Air Force Base as part of her planned alibi. 

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