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Archive for Thursday, March 27, 2014

Lawrence man convicted of first-degree murder in wife’s death after turning down plea deal

March 27, 2014, 3:10 p.m. Updated March 27, 2014, 4:07 p.m.

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A Lawrence man was convicted of first-degree murder Thursday in the November 2013 shooting death of his wife after turning down a plea deal from prosecutors.

Douglas County District Judge Michael Malone convicted Larry L. Hopkins, 67, after he altered his plea from not guilty, which he entered in January, to no contest on Thursday.

Prosecutor Andrew Bauch said at the hearing that a deal had been offered to Hopkins, wherein the charges were adjusted to felony murder and criminal discharge of a firearm, which would have brought up to a life sentence and parole eligibility after 20 years.

Hopkins turned down the deal and elected to plead no contest to the original charge of first-degree murder. That comes with up to a life sentence and parole eligibility after 25 years.

In evidence presented Thursday, Bauch said Lawrence police were dispatched Nov. 5 to the 1600 block of West Second Terrace after Hopkins called authorities and said he shot his wife, 61-year-old Margaret Hopkins, in the head.

Bauch said Hopkins told authorities that his and his wife's health situations became unbearable. Hopkins considered committing murder-suicide, Bauch said, and did not discuss his actions with his wife.

Neither Hopkins nor his attorney, Clinton Lee, disputed the evidence presented. Lee declined to comment following the hearing.

Friends and relatives have told the Journal-World that Hopkins was his wife's primary caregiver. Her health problems included arthritis, diabetes, nerve damage and knee issues.

Hopkins appeared in court Wednesday with a walker and asked Malone if he could remain seated because of leg problems. Hopkins also suffered a stroke over a year ago. He appeared emotional several times during the hearing.

Malone set a sentencing hearing for 3 p.m. May 15.

Comments

8 months, 3 weeks ago

These people needed help and a lot of it. Do they, now he, have no friends or family to intercede? It is nearly impossible for one person to be the sole caretaker when not only does the spouse have significant problems, but the caregiver has also.

I know that what he did was wrong, but I still wish that Hopkins could be paroled and put in a nursing home where he would receive help for his physical and mental problems and have some kind of a life in the time he has left. Horrific as the act was, he must have been beyond desperate to have done this.

John Graham 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Everyone that kills someone has a story, some more sympathetic than others. The simple fact is he apparently is legally competent and he chose to put a bullet in his wife's head because she had health issues that were deteriorating just like millions of other people in the US. He may have been frustrated by her condition and lack of medical options for improvement, but that does not give him the right to execute his wife. He will be where he belongs, in prison. If you let him go then what do you do when the next family member decides to put a bullet in the brain of someone with chronic health problems? He had other options than killing her. Prison is what he deserves.

Amy Varoli Elliott 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Too bad there isn't a system in this country to help the elderly. Instead they are just discarded and left to die.

John Graham 8 months, 3 weeks ago

You are joking, right? There is help available. Google USA.gov. Google Douglas County Senior Services. There are a wide range of services out there for those that need it.

John Graham 8 months, 3 weeks ago

I wonder how many of the bleeding hearts that want everyone to show pity for the husband would feel the same way if instead of an elderly man he was a 30 year old man that shot his 30 year old wife in the head? He is old enough to know better and the courts have not ruled him incompetent. There are local social service agencies available to help if he asked. There are certainly other much better options available than a bullet to her head. So why should we feel pity for this person? Just because he is elderly? Make him 30 years old and I think any pity disappears.

Mark Rainey 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Or we would try to name a walking trail or park after him.

James Howlette 8 months, 3 weeks ago

He didn't ask his wife's permission to shoot her, per the article, so I'm not inclined to give him sympathy here.

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