A longtime criminal was sentenced to life without parole for the assassination-style murder of a 32-year-old Minneapolis man in front of his children.
James A. Woodard, 33, was sentenced Tuesday in Hennepin County District Court, two weeks after jurors convicted him of first-degree murder in the killing of Divittin Hoskins last summer outside a Minneapolis apartment complex in the 1600 block of Plymouth Avenue N.
Woodard crouched next to a garage behind the apartment complex and lay in wait for Hoskins, authorities said. Accomplice Elbert Lee Robinson Jr. appeared to signal Woodard after Hoskins pulled into the parking lot.
As Hoskins and his children started toward the garage, Woodard ran up behind him and fired once at the back of his head, authorities said. Hoskins died at the scene.
The children were not harm, but were “hysterical” after the shooting, authorities said. They were escorted from the scene by acquaintances.
The shooting was caught on surveillance cameras, and several witnesses identified Woodard, according to the criminal complaint, which offered no motive.
Woodard chose not to address the court at sentencing.
During sentencing, a victim advocate for the County Attorney’s Office recalled that Hoskins’ 11-year-old daughter asked, “What would you do if your dad gets a gun pointed at him? I feel so bad because I run for fear of being shot.”
The advocate answered, “That is exactly what I would have done, and I am sure your dad wanted you to run.”
Judge Kathryn Quaintance said the case was one of the most gratuitous acts of violence she has seen in more than 25 years working in criminal justice. She added that Hoskins’ children will have to live with this trauma.
Woodard has been in trouble with the law for nearly all of his adult life. His criminal history in Minnesota includes convictions for attempted robbery, domestic abuse, illegal weapons possession, terroristic threats, drunken driving and drug possession. He is currently charged with burglary and domestic assault in Scott County.
The accomplice, Robinson, 33, of Minneapolis, pleaded guilty to aiding an offender and will be sentenced on Nov. 26.