Man charged with capital murder in 2006 death

Posted Monday, Aug. 26, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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A police officer testified Monday in the capital murder trial of John Hoffman that Laurie Chavers, a 34-year-old mother, was badly beaten before she was killed more than six years ago.

Her son Zachary Harvey, who was 10 at the time, found his mother’s body partially clothed on the floor of his bedroom wrapped in a Toy Story-themed comforter Oct. 2, 2006.

“There was no question in his mind that his mother was dead,” prosecutor Kevin Rousseau said in opening statements.

Hoffman, 45, was not a suspect until his DNA was linked to the crime scene in 2010, Rousseau said.

Rousseau said a man who lived with Chavers and her son was initially the main suspect in the slaying. Chavers’ son testified that the man beat his mother two or three times a week and that the situation between them had turned so violent in the weeks before the murder that he and his mother moved.

“She asked me if I wanted to move to an apartment or a women’s shelter and I said apartment,” Harvey, now 17, testified. “So we moved to a place nearby.”

Chavers and her son moved to the Peppertree Apartments in the 2400 block of Las Vegas Trail to get away from the man, Rousseau said. But investigators eventually cleared the man, who cooperated with police. For two years, the case went cold.

In 2010, detectives set their sights on Hoffman, who was implicated by a DNA match, Rousseau said. But investigators also found DNA from other people at the crime scene.

“We will present evidence that will tell you why that is not indicative of someone else’s guilt,” Rousseau said.

Harvey testified that no one was with his mother the day he found her dead.

A crime scene investigator testified that there were signs of a struggle in the son’s bedroom. A canister of pepper spray was found next to a fan, and a clump of hair was discovered in a hallway, the investigator testified.

Blood was on Chavers’ face and neck as well as on the bedroom walls and carpet, the investigator testified. A business card for a women’s shelter was found in the master bedroom. No signs of forced entry were found.

Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752 Twitter: @mitchmitchel3

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