North Dakota man denies helping to kill pregnant woman

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 man on trial in the death of a North Dakota woman whose baby was cut from her womb denied a role in her death, witnesses Thursday that he, as he walked into his apartment and heard a baby crying, he thought that his girlfriend had given birth.

William Hoehn, 33, disputed testimony from his now ex-girlfriend, Brooke Crews, who took part in the August 2017, killing Savanna Greywind, 22. Crews serving life in prison after pleading guilty to murder.

Hoehn is charged with conspiracy to commit murder. He has admitted that he helped to cover the crime, but denied knowing anything about the Crews of the plans to kill Greywind.

Jurors got the case late Thursday, and deliberated for about 90 minutes with no judgment. They were due to return Friday morning.

Crews testified this week that they are not “explicitly” tell Hoehn what they plan to do, but said when he walked in on a gory scene in the few apartment bathroom, he got a rope and turned him around Greywind the neck to ensure that she was dead. The court said that this testimony could be interpreted as evidence that Hoehn had agreed to take part in the crime.

Crews also testified that she had faked a pregnancy to keep from losing Hoehn, and that he, if he thought she was lying, she felt pressured to have a baby. Hoehn disputed that, saying that he believed Crews was pregnant, until the day of Greywind’s death.

Hoehn looked often at the jury during his testimony as he described coming home that day and the hearing of a baby.

“It was not a spur of the moment, it was not like a scream or nothing,” he said. “It was a separate baby audio. I remember feeling elated and I thought, ‘Oh my god, she had the baby when I was at work.’ “

Hoehn said after he walked to the bathroom, he asked the Crews, “were you still pregnant?” He said she grabbed her stomach and said, “I think so.”

When Hoehn was asked by his lawyer, Daniel Borgen, or he had an agreement with Crew to kill Greywind and her baby, Hoehn said, “Absolutely not. No, no, no.”

Lawyers on both sides told jurors in closing arguments that they would have to wade through the testimony of questionable sources. Borgen called the Crews “the most cunning, experienced liar that we have ever seen.” Prosecutor Leah Viste said, there is enough circumstantial evidence of a conspiracy in a case in which “everyone associated with the event is a liar.”

“They made a plan and carry them out,” Fish said of Hoehn and Crews, and calls them “two people deep in trouble.”

Viste said Crews’ testimony that she felt pressured to be the production of a baby and Hoehn the action when he came on the scene in the bathroom are two ways the jury can find intent. Borgen said, there is no way to prove or Greywind in life was when Hoehn there, so the exclusion of a conspiracy.

“‘Maybe he held the rope” was their argument,” Borgen said. “That sounds like beyond a reasonable doubt?”

Greywind’s death 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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