Hawaii triple murder suspect to undergo mental evaluation

Triple murder suspect called 911, told police intruders killed his wife
Hoffman appears in court (Image: Hawaii News Now via Daryl Lee)
Hoffman appears in court (Image: Hawaii News Now via Daryl Lee)

PAHOA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - Neighbors of the man accused of killing his wife and children said he mostly kept to himself, but could sometimes be seen watching his kids at the Leilani Estates playground.

"No one, I think has really talked to them," said neighbor Jay Turkovsky, adding the triple murders have left residents of the rural Puna community in disbelief.

"Of course, it's quite shocking," he said.

Accused murderer John Ali Hoffman, 49, made his initial appearance in court Monday on first- and second-degree murder charges.

In a bizarre exchange, Hoffman told a judge he wanted to represent himself, saying he is a "sovereign person" and that information in the case is a matter of "national security."

The judge granted him a court-appointed attorney for now, and ordered him to undergo a mental evaluation.

Hoffman was ruffled by the order.

"Your honor, I would like the court ... the judge to recuse himself for a conflict of interest," Hoffman said. "Your honor, I've been in front of the court numerous times, including information that could be vital to this case that creates a conflict of interest judge, and also, it's a breach of national security and if the information is disclosed, there will be a lot of consequences."

Court documents show that Hoffman called police before 2 a.m. Friday to say that three to four intruders were in his home and had shot his wife.

When authorities arrived at the Leilani Estates subdivision, they noticed a blue Toyota Corolla with its headlights off leaving the home where the disturbance was reported. Police stopped the car, identified the driver as Hoffman, and noticed a handgun within his reach.

There was blood on the driver and dripping from the trunk of the vehicle, according to a police statement.

Authorities checked the trunk and discovered a woman with a gunshot to the head. They returned to the home and found two children -- a girl in the bedroom and a boy in the living room. Both were also shot in the head.

Using fingerprints, police on Monday identified the woman who was killed as Aracely Hoffman, the suspect's wife since 2008. The identities of the children have not yet been released to the public.

Hoffman is charged with first-degree murder, three counts of second-degree murder and a firearms charge. His bail is set at $2.75 million.

Court documents say Hoffman has two children, is unemployed and has been in the islands for 16 years.

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