Woman guilty as accessory in killing

Leniency sought for wife of convicted murderer in exchange for testimony

Pizza shop owner was victim

May 30, 2001|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

A 20-year-old woman pleaded guilty yesterday to being an accessory after the fact in the killing of a Falls Road pizza shop owner in July.

Jennifer Hoffman admitted in Baltimore County Circuit Court that she waited outside Pepe's Pizza while her husband robbed the shop and killed 72-year-old Peter Makris. She could be sentenced to up to five years for her role in the crimes.

Judge Robert N. Dugan agreed to postpone sentencing yesterday until Hoffman testifies against her brother-in-law, Martin Hoffman. His trial on felony murder and robbery charges is scheduled to begin Monday.

In exchange for her testimony, Assistant State's Attorney James O. Gentry agreed to recommend an 18-month sentence. Gentry said that Jennifer Hoffman's testimony will be critical to winning a conviction against Martin Hoffman, 38.

Gentry also credited her testimony with helping to convict her husband, Michael J. Hoffman, of first-degree felony murder and armed robbery May 3.

"We couldn't do it without her," Gentry said.

Gentry said that Jennifer Hoffman will testify that she drove with her husband to the pizza shop after it closed for the night July 3 and waited in her car while he spent about 10 minutes inside. Gentry said she will testify that her husband came out with "a wad" of cash and told her, "I fought with Mr. Pete."

Makris died of multiple stab wounds he suffered after confronting the robber, Gentry said.

Martin Hoffman, 38, lived above the restaurant, worked there and had given his brother a key so that Michael Hoffman could get cash that was stored in a locked box beneath the restaurant's cash register, Gentry said.

Gentry said yesterday that Makris might have been stabbed by either or both Hoffman brothers.

For a felony murder conviction, prosecutors must prove only that the Hoffman brothers participated in the early-morning robbery and that Makris was killed as a result.

Gentry said that $10,000 to $12,000 was taken, along with a videocassette recorder.

Gerald Ruter, Jennifer Hoffman's lawyer, told Dugan yesterday that at the time of the robbery she and her husband were living in her 1998 Pontiac.

Gentry said that in the two days after the crime, Michael and Jennifer Hoffman pawned the VCR at a Baltimore shop and spent most of the money on drugs.

Andrew Makris, the victim's son, said yesterday that he does not object to Jennifer Hoffman being sentenced to only 18 months if her testimony helps convict Michael and Martin Hoffman.

"I'd rather have two of them locked up than have all three of them be found innocent and get off," Makris said.

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