Plea bargain brings Hoffer case to a close

Kaleb Hoffer

Kaleb Hoffer was president of the ASEWU from the beginning of June 2012 to the end of November 2012.

By Jane Martin, Editor-in-Chief

The domestic violence case against former ASEWU President Kaleb A. Hoffer was resolved June 5, in Spokane County Superior Court, with a ruling of guilty for assault in the fourth degree, according to court records.

Judge Salvatore Cozza sentenced Hoffer to 29 days of home monitoring and placed him on unsupervised probation for the period of one year. When Hoffer has fulfilled the full year of probation with good behavior, the guilty ruling may be withdrawn, according to court records.

Hoffer was arrested Sept. 28, 2012, after an altercation with his then-girlfriend Krista E. Philen, according to police records. The incident report filed by Officer Nicholas Briggs states that Philen called Cheney police and accused Hoffer of choking her after an argument that began at a house party when she discovered him texting another woman.

The report further stated that Philen admitted to slapping Hoffer, but she told officers that he kicked her twice, once in the chest and shoulder area and once in the mouth after grabbing her throat and pinning her against a wall. Briggs’ report stated that he did not see any noticeable injury to Philen’s mouth, but did see an obvious bruise on her left chest and shoulder area that was consistent with the sole of a shoe.

At press time, Philen had not responded to requests for an interview.

Hoffer was arrested later that night and booked on charges of second-degree assault (strangulation).

On Nov. 28, 2012, Hoffer chose to step down from his position as ASEWU president after he requested a vote of confidence from the ASEWU. The result was a vote of no confidence and he voluntarily stepped down, according to Hoffer.

However, Hoffer said that in a disciplinary hearing following his arrest, the university dropped all student misconduct charges against him.

The resolution of his case with Spokane Superior Court did not come until he was presented with a plea bargain in June, according to Hoffer.

In an interview via email last week, Hoffer told The Easterner, ”As proven with my EWU hearing, and again with the appeal that was denied, there was absolutely no evidence to support second-degree assault. Fourth-degree assault is essentially any unwanted touching of another person. Because I defended myself, the prosecutors had to at least try for fourth-degree assault even though the plaintiff in this case admitted to committing fourth-degree first, by slapping me.”

“When the prosecutors approached me with a plea bargain, I was really torn,” Hoffer said. “I had already proven through the university hearing, under preponderance of evidence, I might add … that I was innocent. However, my attorney informed me that I would be looking at $25,000 in legal fees to prove that in a court of law.

“Understandably, I didn’t have this kind of money. So I was faced with two options: One, pay my attorney $25,000 and be found innocent; [or] two, take the plea, which required admitting guilt to a crime I didn’t commit and be monitored for 29 days,” Hoffer said.

“The prosecutors, unaware of my financial situation, came to me before I made a decision and sweetened the deal by offering me the ability to withdraw my guilty findings after one year. At this point, it was a no-brainer. For a year of good behavior I could have what $25,000 could get me. So on June 5, 2013, I plead guilty to a crime I didn’t commit so I could finally be done with this,” Hoffer said.

The handwritten, signed admission of guilt in Hoffer’s case file reads, “During a physical altercation started by the alleged victim, I placed my foot on her shoulder.”

“In the end, “ Hoffer said, “the judge and the prosecutors were very understanding of the situation and treated me fair with respect to the law.”

“As to the home monitoring, that was fine,” Hoffer said. “My summer wasn’t affected at all. I was permitted to work, travel and have fun.”

Since stepping down from his position as ASEWU president last year, Hoffer has continued to be active on campus.

“My relationship with ASEWU is great,” Hoffer said. “I still go into the office almost weekly, and have submitted my application to be on committees. I still have a lot to offer them.”

“Ultimately, this has been rough but extremely valuable,” Hoffer said. “I have learned a lot from this unfortunate situation. I quickly found out that it is tough to hold your head up high when the world is looking down on you, but that is a lesson that I know will prove invaluable down the road.”

“It was also tough to put ASEWU before myself,” Hoffer said. “I didn’t have to resign. I didn’t even have to ask for a vote of confidence, but I knew it was the right thing to do and I knew that I would be a better person because of it. Thankfully for me, becoming open to the job market proved to be financially rewarding as I was offered a new job only two days after I resigned, allowing me to not only support myself, but also pay off my truck.”

“My plans for the future haven’t changed. I still plan to graduate from EWU with a degree in finance. I still plan to pursue an MBA. And I still plan to always keep changing the world around me for the better. Becoming ASEWU president wasn’t the peak of my success so my plans and goals weren’t derailed by relinquishing that title.”