George Bernard Harvey, accused of accepting $100 from Donna Jean Hoffmann after shooting her husband on Dec. 15, was sentenced yesterday to life in prison for his role in the murder.
Harvey, 23, was one of five young men who pleaded guilty to the murder of Michael Hoffmann, 20. Donna Hoffmann, 19, who directed her husband to the Aquasco murder scene in southern Prince George's County and watched Harvey shoot him, was convicted Tuesday of first degree murder.
Harvey is "borderline retarded" with an I.Q. of 70 and was recruited as an accomplice by Steven Troese Jr., 19, the son of a wealthy lawyer, defense attorney Robert Matty told Circuit Court Judge Jacob S. Levin.
Troese provided Harvey with a rifle and showed him how to use it, according to court testimony. In turn, Troese was recruited by his friend John Penkert, 26, Donna Hoffmann's boyfriend who also pleaded guilty.
Harvey was a tenant former on Troese's father's farm in Aquasco, Matty said. He lived in a shack on the farm and earned $10 a day for gardening, painting and planting.
"Steve Troese and George Harvey had a master-slave relationship," Matty said. "Troese would take him places and buy him things. Troese was aware of the dominance he had and ultimately Troese cashed in his chits" by asking Harvey to participate in the murder.
After the six were charged in the case, it was Steven Troese's father who put up the $25,000 bond for Harvey. "They were the ones who determined whether he'd be free or locked up," Matty testified.
Prosecutor Michael Whalen told Judge Levin that he agreed that Harvey was used by the others. "There is no question that Harvey was the tool utilized by several people in the case," Whalen said. "But it's unbelievable to me that someone can commit this kind of cold-blooded act."
Harvey pleaded guilty to first degree murder for shooting Hoffmann in the chest and head. After the shooting, Donna Hoffmann handed him $100, according to testimony during Hoffmann's trial. Unlike the others, Harvey had not used PCP or cocaine prior to the murder, according to testimony.
Harvey was taken to Patuxent jail in Jessup, Md., a facility for criminals in need of psychological therapy. If after a 90-day evaluation period he is admitted there, he could be released in three years. If he does not qualify for therapy, he will be eligible for parole in 12 years.
"I'm sorry for what I did, for what I caused anybody," Harvey told the judge. "I'm sorry."
Judge Levin said he sympathized with Harvey. "But I can't be responsible for society's problems," Levin said.
Harvey was the second young man sentenced in the case. Troese was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday and, like Harvey, was taken to Patuxent for a psychological evaluation.