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Man acquitted of a pregnant woman to death in North Dakota

William Hoehn testifies Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018, in the district Court, in Fargo, N. D., during his trial for conspiracy to commit murder on Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, a 22-year-old that the baby was cut from her womb. (Michael Vosburg /The Forum via AP, Pool)

FARGO, N. D. – A North Dakota man was acquitted Friday to help with the killing of a pregnant neighbour, by tightening a rope around her neck after his girlfriend cut the baby out of her belly.

William Hoehn, 33, was indicted for conspiracy to commit murder in August 2017, the death of the 22-year-old Savanna Greywind of Fargo. He would be facing life in prison if convicted of the charge.

Hoehn’s former partner, Brooke Crews , gave earlier this year to cut Greywind the baby from her body and is serving life in prison, without the possibility of parole.

Hoehn pleaded guilty earlier this month to help cover the crime, but denied knowing anything about the Crews’ plan to kill Greywind and her baby. He faces a maximum 20-year sentence for conspiracy to commit kidnapping, and up to a year for lying to the police, but the judges in this study were not aware of his previous conviction.

Prosecutor Leah Viste said that she was disappointed about the ruling. She said that she was waiting for the results of a presentence investigation on the previous costs before deciding how long a sentence to ask, “but I believe it is, then we want to ask for something on the high side.”

Greywind the family met with the prosecutor then left the court through a back door and did not comment to reporters. Hoehn’s lawyer, Daniel Borgen, declined to comment because sentencing is still pending on the lesser charge.

The trial turned on the dramatic testimony of Crew members , who told the court that she concocted a fake pregnancy, because she was afraid of losing Hoehn, and that he, if he thought she was lying, he told her that she had to “to produce a baby.” Crew said that she believed that this was ” an ultimatum.”

Hoehn testified that he believed Crews when she told him that she was pregnant and that he was elated when he returned to the house and heard a baby crying.

Crew said that she never “explicitly” told Hoehn what they plan to do, and that he appeared surprised when he came home to find a newborn baby and a bleeding Greywind in their bathroom. But she said after discovering the bloody scene, he took a rope and twisted it around Greywind the neck to ensure that she was dead.

She said Hoehn told her: “If she wasn’t dead before she is.”

A coroner was unable to determine whether the cause of death was strangulation or blood loss.

Judge Tom said Olson Crews’ testimony can be shown that Hoehn had agreed to take part in the crime.

Asked whether he had an agreement with Crew to kill Greywind and her baby, Hoehn told the court: “Absolutely not. No, no, no.”

Crews and another of Hoehn girlfriends testified that Hoehn put ropes around their neck during sex and fantasized about strangling people. A fellow-inmate of the prison, testified that he told Hoehn about his ex-girlfriend abortion, and Hoehn said he “only would cut the baby out.”

Securing countered with a detainee from a western North Dakota women’s prison who testified that the Crew told her that she strangled Greywind and cut out the baby in a matter of minutes. Crews denied that the claim, as well as the argument that the Greywind and Hoehn were having an affair and that they killed Greywind in a fit of jealousy.

Greywind’s body was found several days after she was murdered, wrapped in plastic and dumped in the Red River.

Advocates say that the violence against Native American women is often overlooked . The Greywind case, you are prompted North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp to introduce Savanna’s Act , which aims to improve tribal access to federal crime information databases and the creation of standardized protocols for responding to cases of missing and slain indigenous women. A similar bill has been introduced in the House.

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The above story is corrected to show that Hoehn has not yet been sentenced on his earlier conviction.

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