Local News

Broyhill found guilty in Jamie Hahn stabbing death

Posted March 18, 2015 10:29 a.m. EDT
Updated March 19, 2015 11:15 a.m. EDT

— After more than three hours of closing arguments Wednesday, it took jurors just over one to find Jonathan Broyhill guilty of first-degree murder in the stabbing death two years ago of Jamie Kirk Hahn.

The quick verdict, which culminated the nearly month-long trial, sent moans of relief, tears and hugs through the Wake County courtroom crowded with family and friends of the 29-year-old political strategist, who was attacked in her north Raleigh home by the 33-year-old Broyhill on April 22, 2013. She died two days later.

Hahn and her husband, Nation Hahn – whose fingers were nearly sliced off as he tried to save his wife – considered Broyhill to be a close friend. He vacationed with them, often slept over at their home and even served as best man at their wedding four years earlier.

Jamie Hahn's family said in a statement that they are gratified by the verdict.

"We know that difficult times still lie ahead. We will never be able to fill the hole left in our lives by the death of Jamie," they said. "We would give all that we have to have Jamie with us, to see her grow older and become a mother, and to witness the difference she would have made in the world.

"Jamie’s death is a loss not just for our present and future but for so many who were robbed of so much – the children Jamie and Nation would have parented, the lives that she would have changed for the better, the causes that she would have worked for and the strangers who would have been greeted by her essential kindness, laughter and smile."

Broyhill's mother, Kay Broyhill, had no comment.

Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway excused the jury of seven women and five men after scheduling a sentencing hearing for 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

North Carolina law mandates a life sentence for non-capital first-degree murder, but Ridgeway must also sentence Broyhill for guilty verdicts of attempted first-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury in the attack on Nation Hahn.

Defense attorney Joseph Arbour never disputed Broyhill was guilty of killing Jamie Hahn and injuring Nation Hahn but argued for more than two hours Wednesday that the attacks were unintentional and that Broyhill had only meant to kill himself when he brought an 8-inch chef's knife to the couple's house.

But Wake County Assistant District Attorney Doug Faucette argued that "the suggestion of mere suicide lacks believability."

"If he were going to kill himself, why did he stab Jamie in the back? If he were going to kill himself, why did he continue to cut and stab and slice Jamie Hahn?" Faucette asked. "If (his) motive was suicide, why is Mrs. Hahn in her grave?"

Broyhill also stabbed her in the chest, abdomen and face. She suffered numerous other cuts and injuries to her body as well.

Faucette told jurors they should also re-examine the notion that the Hahns and Broyhill had a close friendship.

"Jamie and Nation did not know the real Jonathan Broyhill. There was no real, genuine friendship. That is painfully obvious," he said. "Jonathan Broyhill was a strange, self-absorbed, master manipulator skilled at effortlessly negotiating all his elaborate deceptions who finally revealed himself on April 22, 2013."

Broyhill handled the finances for Jamie Hahn's political fundraising firm and admitted to police that he wrote himself checks, which totaled more than $45,000, from the campaign of her client, former U.S. Rep. Brad Miller.

Faucette said Broyhill told "endless lies" that included claims he had multiple sclerosis, gallstones and pancreatic cancer – "phantom" illnesses used to keep Jamie Hahn from pressing him about outstanding money matters related to Miller's defunct campaign and ultimately to keep her from finding out about the embezzlement.

A week before the attacks, she had texted Broyhill asking for online banking information after a $591 campaign check to Time Warner Cable bounced.

"Jamie Hahn confronted – unknowingly – the defendant with his evidence of embezzlement," Faucette said, and he planned to do something about it.

Broyhill admitted to police on April 26, 2013, that he walked up behind her while she was sitting at her kitchen table and stabbed her in the back.

Still, Arbour contended the crime was second-degree murder and suggested that the evidence showed Jamie Hahn walked in on Broyhill getting ready to kill himself.

Arbour called Broyhill a "chronic liar" who knew his tales were catching up with him, and, instead of facing the consequences of his actions, planned on ending it all.

"Jon had reached a point where life had become too much," Arbour said. "He decided not to do life anymore."

On top of the embezzlement, he was hiding his depression over his estranged relationship with his mother and his struggles with his sexual identity.

He grew up in a conservative Christian family, Arbour said, and was raised to believe that being gay meant being possessed with demons. He also felt like he didn't fit in with others in the gay community because of his looks and because he was overweight.

"He had finally reached the point where this was it. 'I'm going. I'm checking out, and these people are going to stop me,'" Arbour said, describing the attacks as "an act of wild violence."

"You don't take your life unless you can't do life. If you're not handling life at that stage, how do you think it's going to be when everybody starts to confront you about all these things you've done?" Arbour said. "So, the decision was made, but not once was it part of his thought process that it would involve harm to the two people he cared about."