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No murder charges for Manchester man in November shooting deaths of brother and second man

New Hampshire Union Leader

June 13. 2014 7:41PM
David Hoffens appears before a judge with his public defender Robert Swales at Manchester District Court. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER FILE)

MANCHESTER — A city man responsible for his brother's death and the death of a second man walked out of Hillsborough County Superior Court Friday free after a judge said that, while the deaths were his fault, it w­as punishment enough that he killed his own brother.

David Hans Hoffens, 21, formerly of 331 Lake Ave., never was charged in the Nov. 24, 2013, shooting deaths of his brother, Edgar Hoffens, 22, or Charles Cable, 20.

The N.H. Attorney General's Office ruled Edgar Hoffens' death accidental, and Cable's a case of self-defense, according to Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Michael Zaino.

Judge Gillian Abramson, in giving David Hoffens a 3½ to 7 year suspended sentence on a charge of falsifying evidence, said the case was a tragedy that "was no question your fault."

She told Hoffens that he was the one who had the gun in the struggle between himself and Cable, and that it was David Hoffen’s brother who paid the price.

Still, she said, it was punishment enough that his own brother was dead by his hand.

Hoffens, who was tearful in pleading guilty and who apologized for his actions in a statement read by Public Defender Aileen O'Connell, would not comment as he was leaving the courthouse surrounded by about a dozen family members and friends.

In the statement, he apologized to all affected by his actions, took responsibility for his mistakes and said the loss of his brother was insurmountable and something that would affect him for his entire life.

No one from Cable's family attended the sentencing.

Zaino said, after the hearing, that the county attorney's office did not notify it of the sentencing because it was the Attorney General's Office that was handling the portion of the case directly relating to Cable's death.

The shooting happened on a Sunday afternoon outside the Hoffens' Lake Avenue apartment.

Zaino said that Hoffens had a dispute with a man named Anthony Floyd two weeks before the shootings and that during it, according to Cable's family, David Hoffens brandished a gun. Zaino said after the sentencing hearing that he does not know what the dispute was about.

The day of the shooting, Zaino said, Floyd was going to the Hoffens' apartment to settle their dispute when he ran into Cable, his cousin. Cable, Zaino said, told Floyd he would take care of the dispute.

Cable showed up at the Hoffens' apartment and ended up in a tussle with David Hoffens over Hoffens' .38 caliber revolver. The gun went off, shooting Edgar Hoffens in the chest, killing him instantly.

David Hoffens, believing Cable was reaching for his own gun, shot him in the head, Zaino said. Cable died later at a local hospital.

Zaino, after the hearing, said that police recovered Cable's gun at the scene.

David Hoffens, however, fled the shooting but surrendered soon after near a bakery. He was distraught and repeatedly told investigators he didn't mean to do it and admitted to ditching, the gun, holster and his sweatshirt in an alley as he ran away. He later showed investigators where he tossed the evidence, but police never found the gun.

Zaino asked the judge to sentence Hoffens to 1½ to 3 years in state prison to send a message that you "don't use guns in altercations. Yes, you are allowed to defend yourself, but you have to stay and not leave the scene and hide the evidence."

O'Connell asked for a 1½ to 3 year suspended sentence, with other conditions. She said that when Detective Joseph Ryan talked with Hoffens by cell phone shortly after the shooting, Hoffens was crying hysterically and told him where he threw the gun as he was running in an alley. "He was scared and panicked," she said.

He waived his Miranda Rights and talked with investigators, she said.

Hoffens was in jail for only a day before his family bailed him out. Since then, O'Connell said the family has moved out of the Lake Avenue neighborhood to another part of the city, and Hoffens is working full-time at a Goffstown landscaping company.

Friends and family wrote letters to the court, describing Hoffens as shy, kind-hearted and a hard worker who helped his family, O'Connell said.

Hoffens, as part of his sentence, must: tour the New Hampshire State Prison; be on probation for three years; complete counseling and/or educational programs as ordered by the probation department; complete 100 hours of community service; maintain full-time employment; obtain his GED; waive sentencing review, and submit a DNA sample, as required by law.

The judge also warned Hoffens that if he violated any of those conditions, she would send him to prison.

“Good luck, Mr. Hoffens,” she said.

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