Court hears appeal of Alberta man found guilty of murder, extortion

An Alberta man found guilty of trying to extort a businessman for $1 million and killing a random stranger is appealing his conviction. Global News Files

Alberta’s top court has heard the appeal of a man found guilty of trying to extort a businessman of $1 million and killing a random stranger.

Robert Hoefman, 60, wants the Court of Appeal to overturn his conviction of first-degree murder and extortion by a jury in Medicine Hat, Alta., in 2021.

Hoefman, who represented himself before the three-member Court of Appeal panel Friday, referred to himself in the third-person during his 42-minute argument and claimed that much of the evidence against him was obtained illegally.

“The charges that have been put on Mr. Hoefman were of the utmost serious charges. They have impacted his family’s life as well his own,” Hoefman said.

“You should not be allowed to lock up a person for the rest of his life based on nothing but false statements, fictitious photos, speculation, not following police protocol.”

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Court heard that in 2017, after sending a number of letters to the business owner demanding the cash, Hoefman stabbed James Satre, 63, to death as a warning. There was no connection between the businessman and the victim.

During the trial, the Crown said he committed the murder to prove he meant business.

Police left a duffel bag full of cut-up paper at the secluded drop spot where Hoefman had demanded the cash be leftin one of his letters. The bag was moved, setting off a sensor that led to a number of photos being taken.

But Hoefman, appearing by video from prison, said that didn’t prove anything.

“The picture of a man with a walking stick just shows a man enjoying the outdoors, listening to the water running and the wildlife and that is not a crime,” he said.

But prosecutor Sarah Clive said the photos were clear.

“What we do have is uncontroverted evidence from the officers that the tracking device went off and simultaneously photographs were taken. Those photographs were of Mr. Hoefman,” she said.

“It was simply the starting point for the investigation. It was the catalyst that allowed the police to identify Mr. Hoefman. They did what they were supposed to do, which is follow the evidence.”

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Clive said there was a lot of other evidence. Hoefman’s DNA was on some of the letters and on his prescription glasses that were found underneath the stabbing victim.

The Appeal Court panel reserved its decision.

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