EVERETT — For Chad Hofland, the grief has never left.
It’s been over two years since his son Andre was shot to death near their Marysville home. He held him in the pouring rain as he waited for somebody, anybody to help.
“It was the last time I was able to touch my son,” he said.
His son’s killer Dominic Wilson, 18, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on Feb. 18 in Snohomish County Superior Court. Judge Marybeth Dingledy sentenced Wilson to 17½ years in prison Wednesday.
Wilson’s accomplice Morzae Roberts, 20, had pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in January 2022. Judge Jennifer Langbehn sentenced Roberts on Friday to four years, with some of that time to be served in juvenile detention.
Andre Hofland was murdered on the night of Jan. 5, 2021. The ground was pelted by a cold rain when he was lured out of his Marysville home to complete a deal with Roberts over the sale of “Puff Bars,” or disposable vape pens, police said.
Thinking he wouldn’t be gone long, he left the house wearing shorts and sandals, his father recalled.
Footage from a neighbor’s security camera reportedly showed Roberts and Wilson arriving to buy the vape pens. After the exchange, Wilson raised a gun and the other two boys walked away from him, prosecutors wrote.
Andre Hofland moved toward him, appearing to grab at the gun, according to the charges. Andre Hofland then fell over. He had been shot in the stomach. The video footage showed Wilson and Roberts running away through the Marysville Pilchuck High School campus.
Andre’s mother Xochitl Hofland said she heard the gunshot and her son’s screams. She remembered him saying, “Dominic from school shot me.”
A police officer walked the wounded teenager to a neighbor’s garage. Chad Hofland held his son’s wound with his hand while they waited for the ambulance.
At the hospital, he was listed as a John Doe with no medical background, Chad Hofland said. Instead of allowing his parents to be with him, police interrogated Chad and Xochitl Hofland in a holding area, he said.
“My wife and I felt like we were being interrogated for this crime,” according to a complaint filed by Chad Hofland against the Marysville Police Department.
Wilson was arrested the next morning and charged with first-degree murder. Wilson reportedly said, “(Expletive) it, I’m gonna be in jail for the rest of my life.”
His accomplice, Roberts, was arrested later that day, court papers said. Initially, he said he barely knew Andre Hofland. After learning about the security footage, he cooperated with investigators.
Wilson had no previous felony convictions, but had a juvenile criminal history. Under state sentencing guidelines, the defendant faced 15¼ to 23⅓ years in prison.
Roberts also had no previous convictions, but had two juvenile diversion charges from a few years prior.
Prosecutors said Wilson meticulously planned to get Hofland out of the house alone to rob him.
At the time of the shooting, Wilson was 16.
On Wednesday, a courtroom full of people whose lives were changed by Andre Hofland shared their stories. They described a gentle kid who loved skateboarding and would go out of his way to help other people.
“Andre was a bright burning light representing love, positive connection through peacefulness and understanding,” his father said in a statement to the court. “Andre did not have a bad bone in his body.”
Chad Hofland also expressed anger at Wilson’s plea deal.
“You ran, leaving Andre to die,”
Judge Dingledy went above the sentence agreed upon by the attorneys. She said while Wilson had the rest of his life ahead of him, he needed to take responsibility for what he did.
“So many times,” she said, “it’s a combination of young men and drugs and guns that I see in front of me. There is nothing I can do to bring anybody back.”
Wilson tried to apologize to the victims’ loved ones.
“I can sit here and tell you I’m sorry endlessly,” Wilson said. “I’m sorry for the unfortunate accident that took place. Although I am beyond sorry for all of my wrongs, I realize that sorry will never be enough.”
After Wilson’s sentencing, Hofland’s family expressed frustration with the justice system.
“It’s a complete injustice that this didn’t go to trial,” Chad Hofland told a Daily Herald reporter. “The reason there was a plea deal was because of the worry that everything could be taken away by the judge and they would let him walk free. It was hung over our head.”
Two days later, Wilson’s accomplice was sentenced.
In the emotional courtroom, Roberts was barely able to keep his head up while listening to the victim statements. He held a trash can during the proceedings because he couldn’t stop vomiting.
As part of a plea deal, Roberts’ case was moved to juvenile court, where he received a lesser sentence than if he had been tried as an adult. Deputy prosecutor Martina Wong and Roberts’ defense attorney Samantha Sommerman agreed to suggest a sentence of about four years. The standard range for a juvenile is much less — only 15 to 36 weeks.
The Hofland family felt he was given a “sweetheart” deal and that he hadn’t accepted any responsibility for his actions.
“Without you, Morzae Roberts, Andre would still be alive,” his father said. “Did you think you could lie enough that you wouldn’t face any consequences?”
“You’re not even listening,” Andre’s sister Jessica Hofland said.
Judge Langbehn approved the plea deal. Roberts will be held at Denney Juvenile Justice Center before being transferred to another facility.
Through his attorney, Roberts also apologized in a letter to the family.
“I hope one day you can forgive me,” his letter said. “I was scared and ran when I should have stayed and helped. I wonder sometimes if I stayed with him if I could have saved him.”
Jonathan Tall: 425-339-3486; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @EDHJonTall
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