Grandparents Might Be Out of Their League Trying to Raise Some Teenagers

TeenagersJohnathan Hoffman, not unlike a lot of kids his age, was a handful. His grandmother opened up her home to him after his divorced parents moved to Arizona, and things were apparently not easy. According to reports, the 17-year-old was on probation for a drug-related charge and had been sent to a high school for troubled students. There had even been a domestic disturbance in the household that required the police to be dispatched in March.

But I can’t imagine that that’s any reason why a 74-year-old grandmother would shoot her grandson. Eight times. That’s what you call overkill.

Hoffman called 911 himself after he was he was hit in the chest four times by Sandra Layne, telling the dispatcher that he was going to die. By the time emergency responders arrived at the condo, she’d pumped him with at least four more shots with a .40-caliber handgun.


The elderly woman, who’s a retired teacher, has since been charged with open murder—that gives the jury a chance to decide whether it should be first- or second-degree after they hear the evidence murder—and is being held without bond. She has entered a not guilty plea, however.

I have empathy for grandparents who are raising kids. More than 2.5 million folks are taking the responsibility for their children’s children, according to the AARP. And heaven knows 74 is not the ideal age to be dealing with the headaches and heartbreaks that go along with the package of raising a teenager. But if the job is too much, there are resources to help her get through and unburden herself. I can understand her being scared of her grandson. I can empathize with her being at her wit’s end with his drug habit and all of the drama that goes along with that, I’m sure. I can even see why she would pull out a gun, especially if he was angry or ranting or physically threatening her.

But eight shots proves she was either really scared or really mad. Either way, she shot him to kill him. One or two would’ve put him down to the point where he was no longer a threat. Eight made sure he would never be a problem again.

As the details of the case unfold during the investigation and trial, we’ll all be waiting to hear what her mindset really was at the time and whether she was justified in murdering her grandson. But for now, her regret just seems like an afterthought to her frustration.

So what kind of sentence should Layne get for shooting her grandson?

Image via James Laurence Stewart/Flickr

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