Life sentence for man accused in killing of Glendale woman

By Amanda Lee Myers
Phoenix, Arizona (AP) 6-08

A Whiteriver man has been sentenced in Phoenix to life in prison in the “brutal” killing of a 30-year-old Glendale woman, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Arizona announced Thursday.

Jeremy Hoffman, 23, during May became the last of four people to be sentenced in the killing of Martha Bones, who was strangled to death.

Hoffman could not be reached for comment May 29.

Prosecutors said Hoffman noticed Bones outside his home on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation in July 2005 and thought she had been sent by a law enforcement agency to gather information on his drug-selling operation.

Hoffman repeatedly hit Bones, screamed at her that she was a snitch and demanded who had sent her, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Bones was then tied up and wrapped in plastic sheets. Another suspect, identified as Gallason Cheney, 27, put a plastic shopping bag over her head and tried to suffocate her, prosecutors said. When that didn’t work, prosecutors said Hoffman took off his belt, wrapped it around her neck and tried to choke her.

When Bones still did not die, Hoffman asked for help, at which point a third man, identified as Carlton James, 27, took the free end of the belt, tied it to the bathroom door and took turns with Cheney standing on her neck, prosecutors said.

Cheney and James could not be reached for comment.

After prosecutors said Hoffman poured bleach down Bones’ throat to make sure she was dead, Bones was wrapped in a sleeping bag and buried in a hole in Hoffman’s back yard. Her body was found a week later in the shallow grave.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Hoffman pleaded for leniency because he had claimed he was on meth at the time, but the judge rejected that request, citing the slow, prolonged and agonizing nature of the killing.

“The senseless and brutal nature of this murder shows that these violent criminals had no regard for human life,” U.S. Attorney Diane J. Humetewa said in a statement. “This was a horrible example of the devastating effects of methamphetamine use.”

Cheney and James, both of Whiteriver, were sentenced to 30 years of prison in the case. Blanca Herrera, 30, of Glendale, was sentenced to 25 years in prison.