The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

May 3, 2013

UPDATE: Judge rules Hoffner investigative file will remain sealed


“It does involve a powerfully sensitive topic. The courts will always give maximum protection to the children and I’m fine with that.”

Jass said the information that has already been entered into Hoffner’s criminal file is all that the public needs to see. Some reports from investigators were offered as evidence by Hoffner’s attorney, Jim Fleming, during an omnibus hearing requesting the case be dismissed. Assistant Blue Earth County Attorney Mike Hanson also was given a chance to offer any evidence he had to support the charges, Jass said.

Anfinson said there could still be portions of the file that would be important for the public to know about.

Some items that are not in the criminal file were revealed by lists of evidence sent to Fleming prior to the omnibus hearing. Those items include the report completed by a key investigator in the case, sheriff’s Detective Jerry Billiar, statements provided by MSU employees to Billiar, a letter an MSU employee sent to Billiar and recorded interviews Hoffner and his wife, Melodee, had with Billiar. There also could be information in the file explaining why investigators and prosecutors decided to proceed with the case.

“We requested the court allow the public, not just the media, access to an investigative file that may have contained evidence of possible prosecutorial misconduct,” Free Press Editor Joe Spear said Friday. “We were never interested in any material regarding the Hoffner children that was already protected by law with good reason.

“The judge decided that the public didn’t need to see any of the potential evidence of prosecutorial misconduct.”

Spear said he will consult with Anfinson after he receives the order and decide then whether Jass’ ruling will be appealed.

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