Hoerig pleads not guilty to murder, bond set at $10,000,000
59-year-old Claudia Hoerig appeared in court for the first time to answer to one charge of aggravated murder in connection to the 2007 death of her husband Major Karl Hoerig.
It appears the Brazilian appeals clock ran out for accused killer Claudia Hoerig.
That's what ultimately landed her in a Trumbull County courtroom Friday morning, accused of murdering her husband.
Hoerig pleaded not guilty to one count of aggravated murder with a gun specification.
Judge Andrew Logan then set her bond at $10-Million cash or surety.
Chief Prosecutor Dennis Watkins who has been fighting to get Claudia Hoerig back on American soil for 11 years actually asked that Judge Andrew Logan set no bond for Hoerig.
He felt she initially fled to Brazil thinking the government there could protect her.
As she was escorted into the Trumbull County Courthouse from the jail by sheriff's deputies Hoerig appeared somewhat startled as a news reporter asked, "Claudia anything to say?"
But once inside Sheriff Paul Monroe was among the tight security surrounding her, and the constant clicks of the photographers cameras signaled that the accused killer entered the courtroom for her initial appearance.
Chief Prosecutor Dennis Watkins and Assistant Prosecutor Chris Becker will prosecute the case.
Hoerig will be represented by two public defenders.
She's accused of ambushing and then shooting her husband Major Karl Hoerig twice in the back and once in the head with a laser sighted 357 revolver back on March 12 of 2007 in their Newton Falls home.
Prosecutors say she cleaned out his bank accounts and then fled to her native Brazil.
Chief U.S. Marshal Peter Elliott who is in charge of the Northern District of Ohio says Deputy U.S. Marshal Bill Boldin immediately tracked Claudia Hoerig to Pittsburgh, then JFK and ultimately to Brazil.
That's when the 11 year battle to try and extradite her back to the United States began.
"The reason Claudia is back here I'm going to tell you right now is because of one man and that man is Dennis Watkins. I have 40 counties in my jurisdiction, I have never seen a more passionate prosecutor than Dennis Watkins. Look, I never had one doubt in my mind that she was going to be back here one day. I never knew how long it was going to take but there was never a doubt in my mind that she was going to be back here one day," Chief Marshal Elliott said.
The victim's family and friends embraced and were clearly thankful to prosecutors, the U.S. Marshals, the FBI and State Department as Hoerig was escorted out of the courtroom and back to jail.
While victim Karl Hoerig's parents tell 21 News they have agreed not to talk about the case for now, his younger brother Paul Hoerig is talking, saying this is a good day.
"Extremely relieved, extremely happy, because I've been waiting for this for quite some time. And it's taken a lot of effort, and it's taken a lot of effort on a lot of people's parts to get to this point so I'm really relieved, really happy," Paul Hoerig said.
His close friend State Representative John Boccieri who worked tirelessly to make this day happen was emotional, "When I was elected to Congress in 2008 I'll never forget Karl's father Ed grabbing me and saying hey, I need you to do all that you can to make sure that she stands in court someday and I want to ask her one question. How could you do this to someone who all they ever wanted to do was to help others?"
So you may be wondering why Claudia Hoerig is not facing the death penalty? Well prosecutors say that was a conscious decision when she fled to Brazil because they knew that would make it more difficult to get her back to the United States.
Hoerig will be back in court for a pre-trial hearing on February 6th. Judge Andrew Logan is hoping to set a trial date at that time.