Trials Can Be Murder

Jimmy Myers was eighteen the night he rolled the car with the body of Geoffrey Hobin inside. Eighteen months later, in March 1999, he stood before Judge R. Brooke Jackson to be sentenced -- not for murder, but for burglary. Now that a jury had acquitted Myers's friend and co-defendant, Guy Hadorn, no one would ever be held accountable for Hobin's death.

"I know nothing I can say right now will make amends for what happened," Myers told the judge. "You know, there's not much that can be said that already hasn't been said."

"One thing that's on my mind," Jackson replied, "but I know I'm not going to make you answer it -- is, what happened? Who killed Mr. Hobin?"

Late on August 12, 1997, volunteer firefighter Dale Cole was driving along I-70 when he saw what he thought was smoke coming from near the Lookout Mountain exit. But when he arrived at the scene about 10:30 p.m., he discovered a late-model Toyota Land Cruiser flipped onto the driver's side, just off the shoulder of the road. Realizing the accident had just occurred -- what he thought was smoke was actually dust stirred up by the crash -- he called for an ambulance, then climbed through the open rear hatch.

Inside, Cole found a middle-aged man. But this was no accident victim: The man had a belt wrapped so tightly around his throat that he was cyanotic, his face blue and purple. Cole loosened the belt and checked for a pulse; finding none, he quickly backed out of the vehicle and waited for help.

An ambulance arrived within minutes, as did Colorado State Patrol officers. The paramedics checked the victim with a heart monitor; 52-year-old Jeffrey Hobin was pronounced dead at 10:42 p.m.

The case was turned over to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department. Hobin was a big guy, but there was no indication he'd struggled. The only signs of violence were bruising on Hobin's right temple and marks left on his throat by the belt. But while the car was immaculate -- not only were there no prints, including Hobin's, but there wasn't so much as a smudge on the windshield -- it did contain some evidence. One piece was the black, braided belt around Hobin's neck. There also was a second belt on the floor, a jacket that appeared too small for Hobin and a Dallas Cowboys baseball cap, which contained seven hairs that the crime lab determined had come from a single person.

More important at this stage of the investigation were "membership cards" for Denver-area strip clubs found in Hobin's wallet. Investigators soon learned that Hobin, a divorced father of two daughters, frequented the clubs. The girls there reported that he was a soft touch for help with car payments or rent and would even offer to pay for school so they could "get out of the life."

Hobin could afford to be generous. He'd lived in a large, new home that backed up to the Westwoods Country Club golf course; the Land Cruiser was new, as was a Harley-Davidson motorcycle parked in the garage.

By 1997, one young woman in particular had caught Hobin's fancy: Lorilee Myers, a 19-year-old topless dancer who worked at several metro-area clubs. Lorilee had married a man in a civil ceremony at the Denver courthouse, but when he began to beat her, she was "rescued" by a mail carrier named Robert Poole, who is now her live-in boyfriend.

Hobin was so enamored of Lorilee that he followed her from one strip club to another. He gave her an estimated $10,000 to $20,000 to fix her car and buy clothes, and put several thousand in a savings account he set up for her. Although he made a couple of attempts to start a sexual relationship, when she spurned his overtures, he continued to be friendly, paid her to do light housekeeping at his home and even offered to send her to the University of Denver.

Once he brought her to Frisco to meet his sister, Sandra Mortensen. On another occasion, he took her to visit a daughter in Wyoming. Mortensen says that in some ways, Hobin's good Samaritan relationship with the stripper was less about sex than it was about trying to play a father's protective role with the young woman -- a role he'd missed with his own daughters.

After Hobin's body was discovered, Jeffco investigators talked to strippers at various clubs, including Lorilee, whose phone number they'd found on one of the membership cards. They'd discovered a letter on Hobin's computer asking Lorilee to come live with him, but they also knew that Hobin had withdrawn $750 the day he died, which he'd given to another stripper who was behind on her car payments.

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Steve Jackson