Lake Worth man gets life for killing woman in 2014

The Palm Beach Post - - LOCAL & BUSINESS - By Daphne Duret Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

WEST PALM BEACH — The death penalty case tied to the 2014 bru­tal beat­ing death of a 35-year-old woman by two men she’d met in drug re­hab ended Tues­day with a plea deal that earned one of her killers three life sen­tences.

An­drew Hoff­man, 31, of Lake Worth, pleaded guilty to one count each of first-de­gree mur­der, kid­nap­ping and rob­bery a week be­fore what was sup­posed to mark the start of jury se­lec­tion in his trial for the mur­der of Margeaux Green­wald. Her body was found in a wooded area off Ky­oto Gar­dens drive in Palm Beach Gar­dens two days af­ter pros­e­cu­tors say Hoff­man and an­other man, Her­bert Savell, dumped her there af­ter beat­ing her to death with a base­ball bat.

Savell, who led po­lice to Green­wald’s body af­ter her June 5, 2014, death, said it was Hoff­man who

used the bat he pur­chased to beat Green­wald to death af­ter they thought she’d died of a drug over­dose but later heard sounds com­ing from the trunk where they’d placed her body. Savell pleaded guilty to his role in Green­wald’s mur­der in ex­change for a 60-year sen­tence just be­fore Christ­mas and was ex­pected to be pros­e­cu­tors’ main wit­ness against Hoff­man.

Had Hoff­man gone to trial and been con­victed as charged, pros­e­cu­tors would have asked ju­rors to sen­tence him to death. Although no de­fen­dant in state court has re­ceived a death sen­tence lo­cally in nearly two decades, de­fense at­tor­ney Jim Eisen­berg said Wed­nes­day even the high prob­a­bil­ity of a life ver­dict would have forced both Hoff­man’s fam­ily and Green­wald’s through an emo­tional trial and penalty phase.

“We cer­tainly never be­lieved what Mr. Savell said,” Eisen­berg said. “But with all the ev­i­dence, and the DNA ev­i­dence that def­i­nitely placed (Hoff­man) there, he was smart and he knew that the like­li­hood of a jury com­ing back with first de­gree mur­der was real.”

As part of the sen­tence, Palm Beach County Judge Barry Co­hen sen­tenced Hoff­man to life in prison on the mur­der charge, and or­dered the two life sen­tences on the kid­nap­ping and rob­bery charge to run to­gether with one an­other, but con­sec­u­tive to the mur­der sen­tence.

At the time po­lice ap­pre­hended her killers, Green­wald’s rel­a­tives said she had strug­gled with drug ad­dic­tion and was in and out of sober homes in her na­tive New Jer­sey and South Flor­ida. But her fam­ily said she had ap­peared to be win­ning the bat­tle shortly be­fore her death, and her fa­ther said that she had also coun­seled other re­cov­er­ing ad­dicts dur­ing her own re­cov­ery.

Ac­cord­ing to ar­rest re­ports, Savell said that he, Hoff­man and Green­wald were all do­ing drugs at a home on Boynton Beach when ei­ther Savell or both men be­lieved Green­wald had over­dosed. They tied her hands and feet with belts and neck ties, placed her body in­side of garbage bags and a rain pon­cho, and placed her in the trunk of her Chrysler 300.

Savell said he ini­tially drove the car, and at some point they heard noises com­ing from the trunk. The men then stopped at a lo­cal Tar­get store, where Savell pur­chased a bat.

Hoff­man told po­lice he thought the plan was to take Green­wald to the hos­pi­tal, but when he rode to the wooded area in Palm Beach Gar­dens with Savell, it was Savell who took her out of the car.

“Hoff­man said he didn’t see or hear any­thing af­ter that,” Palm Beach Gar­dens Po­lice of­fi­cer Do­rian Hawkins wrote in Hoff­man’s Au­gust 2014 ar­rest re­port.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors, how­ever, were able to link Hoff­man to Green­wald’s mur­der af­ter they found her blood on a pair of Hoff­man’s white bas­ket­ball shorts. Foren­sic ex­perts said her blood was splat­tered on the shorts, not trans­ferred, and the per­son wear­ing the shorts was likely stand­ing in close prox­im­ity to Green­wald when she was beaten to death.

An­drew Hoff­man pleaded guilty to killing Margeaux Green­wald.

Mar­gaux Green­wald had been a re­cov­er­ing drug ad­dict.

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