Teen murderer wants sentence reduction, says life sentence unconstitutional

by: Kevin McCarty Updated:


ORTING, Wash. - A man convicted of a murder he committed when he was just 16 years old is asking a Pierce County Superior Court judge to reduce his sentence of life without parole because of a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court last year.

Ansel Wolfgang Hofstetter, who is now 37, is asking for the new sentence based on a 2012 Supreme court ruling in the case of Miller v. Alabama that states mandatory life sentences for minors are unconstitutional.

Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Lindquist is challenging Hofstetter's claim. Lindquist said the Miller v. Alabama ruling may not be retroactive to cases decided before 2012. The Washington state Supreme Court is examining the case to determine if it applies to sentences handed down before 2012, "and then we'll know whether or not this applies to older cases such as Hofstetter," Lindquist said.

The murder of Linda Miller, 25, during the robbery of a Jackpot convenience store during the early morning hours of March 9, 1991 is still remembered and talked about in Orting, even 22 years later.

"That gal left a family and she was young and well-loved by many people. It devastated an entire family," said Dorothy Fuller, who works in The Timber bar just down the main street in Orting where the murder took place.

Cameron Osborne, who was 2 when Miller was killed, said people point to the now-shuttered store and bring up the incident all the time. "Any time the Jackpot comes up they're like, 'oh did you ever hear about that murder that happened?'"

Miller was shot twice in the back of the head by Hofstetter as he and his accomplice Dwayne Satterfield, 19, stole $97 and some cigarettes. According to court documents from the trial, Hofstetter bragged about the crime telling others he would kill again. "This was a brutal murder where the defendant shot a store clerk in the head twice for no reason other than to eliminate a witness," said Lindquist.

When asked about the case and Hofstetter's plea for a reduced sentence, some Orting residents who remembered the crime said they don't believe he should ever be released, even though he was so young at the time of the murder. "I think personally you know what you're doing when you're 16 years old." said Eagles bartender Kima Schmitz, "So I don't think there would be any justice in that."