Informant: Defendant said he didn't conspire to kill pregnant Fargo woman
FARGO — A man who did time in the Cass County Jail with William Hoehn testified Monday, Sept. 24, that Hoehn told him he was guilty of some things but not of conspiring to murder a pregnant Fargo woman.
Bryan Grob told the jury in Hoehn's trial that he encountered Hoehn in jail after Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind disappeared Aug. 19, 2017, but before her body was found in the Red River on Aug. 27, 2017.
"You get to know people pretty quickly," Grob said, adding that he and Hoehn would sometimes talk about what they would read in the newspaper.
Grob said Hoehn never talked at length about the charges he was facing, but at one point he shared what he saw when he came home from work on Aug. 19, 2017. Grob said Hoehn told him he walked in on the most messed up thing imaginable.
Grob's testimony also indicated that Hoehn admitted putting LaFontaine-Greywind's body in the river. The 22-year-old was eight months pregnant when she was killed.
Monday was the fifth day of Hohen's trial on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder. He's accused of conspiring with his former girlfriend, Brooke Crews, to kill LaFontaine-Greywind and remove her unborn child in order to raise the child as their own.
Crews, who could testify in the trial Tuesday, Sept. 25, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit kidnapping and lying to police, and she's serving a life sentence.
Hoehn has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit kidnapping and lying to police, and is awaiting sentencing on those charges.
'A love story'
Grob testified Monday that he and Hoehn were once talking about difficulties they had had with ex-girlfriends, and Grob shared something about a former girlfriend and an abortion. He said Hoehn replied he would have "just cut the baby out" of the woman.
Grob said Hoehn told him after he walked in on a strange scene at the north Fargo apartment he shared with Crews, he proceeded to help clean up blood and wrap up a body.
Grob said Hoehn broke down and cried as he related certain information.
He said Hoehn told him he put the body in a hollowed-out dresser and carried the dresser out of the apartment building the following night, which would have been late Aug. 20 or early Aug. 21, 2017.
Grob said Hoehn was interested in finding someone who would "write the real story" of what happened, stating that the real story "was a love story."
Grob said at the time he met Hoehn he was being held on charges related to methamphetamine possession, a case in which he was ultimately convicted. Grob said he did not receive any special deals for providing information to authorities.
Also Monday, jurors heard from Tanith McCloud, a former girlfriend of Hoehn's who testified that in early 2017 Hoehn told her Crews had told him she was pregnant.
After Hoehn and Crews were arrested in connection with LaFontaine-Greywind's killing in August 2017, McCloud said she had a number of conversations with Hoehn via phone calls and visits to the Cass County Jail.
In one of those conversations, which was recorded and played at trial Monday, Hoehn told McCloud, "I didn't know this was going to happen."
He said he did what he did out of "fear, emotion or caring."
Asked about Crews, Hoehn replied, "I couldn't bring myself to just turn her in. I made some poor decisions."
Jesse Smith, a special agent with the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, testified that authorities pulled data from a number of devices found in Crews and Hoehn's apartment, including records of searches made online.
Smith said searches made in early 2017 included seeking information on how to make a noose, how to register a baby with the state of North Dakota after a home birth, and preparing for unassisted childbirth.
Another search was for information on how long it would take for someone to pass out from not being able to breathe.
Smith said authorities did not know who did the searches.
Exact cause of death uncertain
LaFontaine-Greywind's body was found wrapped in black plastic with a noose around her neck, according to Dr. Victor Froloff, with the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office in St. Paul, who conducted an autopsy a day after the remains were discovered in the Red River.
Froloff testified Monday that LaFontaine-Greywind could have died from loss of blood from having her abdomen cut open during an out-of-hospital cesarean section. Or he said she could have died from asphyxiation from having the noose tightened around her neck, but that it was impossible to know for certain which was the ultimate cause of her death.
The last time her family heard from her, she told them she was going to Crews' apartment to help Crews with a sewing project about 1:30 p.m. on Aug. 19, 2017.
Testimony provided last week from Hoehn's employer, the owner of a roofing company, indicated that Hoehn got a ride home from work that day sometime about 2 or 2:30 p.m.
The first of several police searches of the apartment took place about 5 p.m. that evening.
In statements made to investigators, Crews has said that after LaFontaine-Greywind arrived at her apartment they argued and a shoving match ensued, during which LaFontaine-Greywind fell and hit her head, rendering her unconscious to some degree.
Crews said at that point she decided to perform a C-section.
Froloff testified Monday that the autopsy showed no signs of external or internal head injury.
Autopsy photos shown to the jury included images of LaFontaine-Greywind's tattoos that helped authorities identify her body.
One of them was a tattoo that read: "too beautiful for earth."
The tattoo was a memorial to her grandmother, authorities said.