Thursday, July 10, 2003

Killing suspect ordered tested



By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

BURLINGTON - Michael Hopkins of Florence was ordered Tuesday to undergo a mental evaluation to determine if he is competent to stand trial in the fatal shooting of his estranged girlfriend in March.

Public defender David Randall Steele had filed the motion for the psychological evaluation claiming his client suffered from a split personality. Steele said Hopkins was incapable of understanding the charges against him.

Hopkins, who faces the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison if convicted of murder, has not been cooperating with his public defender. Hopkins filed two motions of his own after complaining Steele wasn't adequately representing him.

The motions filed by Hopkins ask for a speedy trial and the return of $665 in cash seized from his apartment. Hopkins said the money belonged to his current live-in girlfriend who had nothing to with the killing. Senior Judge Stan Billingsley warned Hopkins about not following the advice of his attorney.

Hopkins, who was 20 at the time of his arrest, is accused of killing Crystal Smith of Florence. Police say Hopkins lay in wait inside Smith's apartment while the 22-year-old was shopping at a discount store. She was reportedly buying birthday gifts for one of her children.

Ignoring a call from a neighbor that Hopkins was ransacking her apartment, Smith returned home to face her ex-boyfriend. When she arrived at her apartment on Celtic Ash Drive, according to police, Hopkins was in the doorway with a .25-caliber pistol in his right hand and a 9 mm pistol in his left.

Police say Hopkins cursed at Smith, told her to get inside and slapped her in the head. A struggle followed, according to police, and the .25-caliber went off, hitting Smith once in the head.

Hopkins remained in the Boone County jail Wednesday in lieu of $250,000. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Sept. 23 in Boone Circuit Court.

E-mail jhannah@enquirer.com




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