Man charged over tree bodies horror


Matthew Hoffman is charged with aggravated murder, burglary, kidnapping and rape (AP)

A man suspected of killing three people whose dismembered bodies were found in a hollow tree has been charged with aggravated murder, burglary, kidnapping and rape.

But a death sentence is not being pursued at the wishes of the victims’ families.

Instead unemployed tree-cutter Matthew Hoffman could face life without the possibility of parole if convicted of killing Tina Herrmann, her son Kody Maynard, and neighbour Stephanie Sprang, according to an indictment.

The indictment says Hoffman, 30, committed the killings while he burgled Ms Herrmann’s house on November 10 near a lakeside community about 60 miles from Columbus, Ohio.

Hoffman was also charged with kidnapping a 13-year-old girl during the crime and later raping her at his home in Mount Vernon.

The crimes that Hoffman is charged with could carry a possible death penalty, but Knox County prosecutor John Thatcher said those charges were not pursued “in accordance with the wishes of the victims’ families”.

Hoffman is also charged with tampering with evidence for allegedly taking clothes and bedding from Ms Herrmann’s house because he sought to remove them as possible evidence. He is further charged with abusing a corpse “because the victims’ remains were not intact when recovered”, Mr Thatcher said.

Hoffman’s lawyer said the charges were not a surprise.

“There’s really nothing in the indictment that came as a shock, based on what I had understood the state’s position to be as to what had occurred,” Bruce Malek said.

He declined to comment on Mr Thatcher’s decision not to seek the death penalty.

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