John E. Hoffman

John E. Hoffman booking mugshot. Wednesday, January 22, 2020. Submitted Photo/The Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, Pa.

EBENSBURG, Pa. – A Cambria County jury on Wednesday night found John E. Hoffman guilty of first-degree murder in the killing of a 74-year-old man inside his Geistown home.

The jury deliberated for almost seven hours before it returned a verdict at around 8 p.m., finding Hoffman, 53, guilty of aggravated assault and robbery, as well as the murder charge, in the November 2019 beating death of Anthony Profaizer.

Cambria County District Attorney Gregory Neugebauer said his office is pleased with the jury’s decision.

“A man that was brutally murdered has justice, and hopefully him and his family can have peace in that,” he said.

Matthew Dombrosky, one of Hoffman’s attorneys, said that the defense team did not feel the evidence presented at trial justified the conviction.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed in the verdict,” he said. “We didn’t think the evidence supported that verdict. In our view, this is still an unsolved murder here in Cambria County. There’s lots of other evidence in the case that pointed to lots of other people that are involved with Tony Profaizer, and it would be our wish that the authorities would still be investigating these people.”

Hoffman is scheduled to be sentenced at 10 a.m. Monday in the murder case and in other criminal cases against him. Neugebauer said that a first-degree murder conviction in Pennsylvania carries a mandatory life sentence.

Dombrosky said that he and Hoffman’s other defense attorney, Richard Corcoran, will review the case after Hoffman is sentenced in order to determine if there are grounds for an appeal to a higher court.

While the jury heard from several witnesses during the trial, they did not hear from Hoffman, who told Judge David J. Tulowitzki that he was voluntarily waiving his right to testify in his own defense.

“I do not think it is necessary for me to testify,” Hoffman told the judge.

Prosecutors alleged that Hoffman sold Profaizer’s prescription pain medication on the street and killed him when he didn’t have any pills. They called as witnesses two informants who said Hoffman admitted to the killing while they were confined together at Cambria County Prison.

Greg Kupchella, who oversees records at the prison, was called as a witness by the defense and showed the records of Hoffman’s incarceration dates. Kupchella testified that Hoffman was not incarcerated in December 2019, but was incarcerated in January 2020.

Corcoran noted in his closing argument that one of the confidential informants had stated that he met Hoffman in December 2019.

“Perhaps it was an innocent mistake, or perhaps it was a falsehood,” he said of the discrepancy.

The defense also presented another jailhouse witness who was incarcerated at the same time as Hoffman and the prosecution’s two confidential informants. That inmate testified that one of the informants had tried to pin the killing on two other people. Corcoran argued in his closing that this makes the informant difficult to trust.

Corcoran also told the jury that there was no evidence that Hoffman had drugs or money on his person on Nov. 25, the day Profaizer’s body was found inside his house in the 600 block of Sunberry Street.

Assistant District Attorney Joel Polites told the jury to listen to the story Hoffman told to investigators by his actions.

“ ‘The gift that keeps on giving’ – this was Mr. Hoffman’s favorite phrase when describing Tony, Anthony Profazier,” he said. “Mr. Hoffman was the gift that keeps on giving to investigators.”

Polites told the jury that the investigation started when Hoffman came to police to report that he had been kidnapped, pistol-whipped and had a gun pointed at his genitals because he owed someone money. During his police interview, he also told police the street value of oxycodone and that he knew Profaizer would get 180 pills at one time.

Polites told the jury that, in the videotaped interview, Hoffman told detectives he would sell the pills for Profaizer and keep some of the profits for himself.

“Remember, he said he hadn’t seen Tony Profaizer in two months, but his DNA was found not only on (Profaizer’s) pants, but in his pants pocket, where he kept what he called his gold – his pills,” Polites said.

Katie Smolen is a reporter with The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter @KSmolen1230.

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