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Local News

Judge sentences Minooka man to probation for fatal shooting

James Hess
James Hess

A judge sentenced a Minooka man to probation for killing his former girlfriend’s ex-con 29-year-old son, an incident the victim’s mother said was “catastrophic” for her family.

James F. Hess, 67, of the 25800 block of Canal Road was given four years of probation by Will County Judge Dave Carlson. Hess had pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for killing Nathan Hofkamp on April 17, 2017.

Hofkamp was released from prison that day and attended a party with his family and Hess at Hess’ home, police said. At some point, Hess became upset with Hofkamp, retrieved a handgun and shot Hofkamp when he tried to disarm Hess, according to a wrongful-death lawsuit filed on behalf of Hofkamp’s daughter.

At Thursday’s court hearing, Will County Assistant State’s Attorney Elizabeth Domagalla read a statement from Hofkamp’s mother, Kathy Hofkamp, who wrote that her granddaughter is “experiencing unimaginable pain at such a young age” over his death.

“This will forever be catastrophic to our family,” Kathy Hofkamp’s letter said.

Hess called his fatal shooting of Nathan Hofkamp a “tragic event that occurred.”

He said he supported Nathan Hofkamp by helping him pay for his car and paying for commissary and phone call expenses when he was in prison.

Although second-degree murder is a probationable offense, Will County Assistant State’s Attorney Chris Koch sought an unspecified amount of time in prison for Hess.

“There has to be some consequence other than walking the streets on probation,” Koch said.

Carlson pressed Koch on the amount of time Hess should serve in prison. Koch asked for the maximum of 20 years.

Hess’ attorney, Jeff Tomczak, requested probation. He argued Hess was in fear of his life during the incident and he was unlikely to reoffend.

Carlson called the incident “tragic” and said he didn’t know if a prison sentence for Hess would have a “deterrent effect.”

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