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Judge refuses bond reduction for two brothers

Two Charleston brothers accused in a string of robberies will not get a bond reduction from a judge who said her priority is public safety.  

Kanawha Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey said she could not consider reducing the $25,000 bonds for Christopher Hoffman, 24, or Joseph Hoffman, 21. They have been held at South Central Regional Jail since being picked up by police in mid-November. 

Defense attorneys for the two told the judge the Hoffmans could not come up with the 10 percent cash option and asked that their bond amounts be lowered to $5,000, or 10 percent.

Bailey called Christopher Hoffman a "24-year-old train wreck" when she talked about his prior criminal charges.

"The citizens of this county want to know what judicial officers are doing releasing people charged in these types of crimes back out into the community," she said. 

In the case of Christopher's brother, Joseph, Bailey said she wasn't swayed by the fact that many of the charges against him in the past had been dismissed.

He has been charged with destruction of property, domestic battery, petit larceny, fleeing, violation of a domestic protective order, battery and obstruction of justice. He was charged with burglary in an incident involving his mother, but that felony charged was dismissed.

"I figure there should have been more arrests," said the judge. "There's usually conduct that has not been caught."

The Hoffmans were caught breaking into a home on Temple Street and stealing photographs and food. The residents of the house, who armed themselves with scissors, were injured in an altercation with the robbers.

That robbery resulted in the brothers' most recent charges.

Gail Michelson, attorney for Joseph Hoffman, said those residents were squatters and the house was abandoned.

But the brothers were arrested after one of the victims identified them from a security camera video taken at a Cliffview Drive home shortly before the second robbery. They were unsuccessful in breaking into that home.

Federal charges were dropped against Christopher Hoffman relating to an armed robbery of the Exxon station at Kanawha Boulevard and Florida Street last year. But Assistant Prosecutor Michelle Drummond said she will present that case now to a Kanawha grand jury.

Drummond opposed any bond reduction for the two, saying it had already been lowered from the original $50,000.

"I used an entire ream of paper printing out the police reports on them," she said, and asked the judge to consider the "havoc they have wreaked on society."

Bailey said bond of $25,000, where it now stands, is reasonable for both. If released, she ordered "lockdown" home confinement.

Contact writer Cheryl Caswell at cherylc@dailymail.com or 304-348-4832.


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