FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) — The accused shooter in the 2018 Vintage Place ambush in Florence appeared in court Wednesday morning for a hearing.
Frederick Hopkins Junior, 76, is charged in the shooting that killed two law enforcement officers and left five others wounded. The shooting broke out after authorities attempted to serve a search warrant on his son, Seth.
Whether or not Hopkins had the means to pay for an attorney was the focal point of Wednesday’s hearing.
A judge previously determined that Hopkins was not indigent- essentially meaning he should be able to pay for a lawyer.
He still has not been officially appointed one.
Hopkins, and an attorney who appeared with him, wished for the court to reconsider whether or not he should be considered indigent.
“I have nothing,” Hopkins said across the courtroom to the judge. “I have no income. I’m not employed. All I’ve got is social security.”
Meanwhile, attorney Aimee Zmroczek questioned the means in which his indigency status was determined to begin with.
“They said please make a determination. Judge Russo did that without a hearing,” Zmroczek said. “There were no findings of fact on the record. There was no attorney present.”
The state fired back, though.
12th Judicial Circuit Solicitor Ed Clements III said the state would not oppose Hopkins getting court-appointed counsel if he meets the criteria.
However, the solicitor listed assets he believed to be associated with Hopkins. That list included the large home he used to live in, a gun collection said to be worth $62,000 along with his wife’s successful career.
“He’s got some stream of income coming in,” Clements said. “He also had a tremendous amount of personal property and highly expensive ‘toys,’ so to speak. I remember walking through the house and there were at least two huge telescopes.”
Clements made further comments regarding his relationship with his wife.
He said she filed a summons and complaint in family court in October of 2018, and part of the pleading said that ‘throughout the marriage, the parties maintain on the whole virtually distinct accounts and assets with separate identities. Plaintiff seeks an equitable division of all the marital property of the parties and is informed and believes that the defendant does desire for the plaintiff to have 100 percent of the marital estate for the benefit of the children.’
Clements continued by explaining concerns prosecutors had over recorded phone conversations when Hopkins was in jail.
“They were reviewing that and they had telephone conversations about how they were going to do this and fool the court,” Clements said. “We filed a motion at that time to intervene because we felt like that was collusion between the two of them and this was maybe an attempt, maybe not.. to defraud the court.”
The divorce action ultimately was administratively dismissed pursuant to the 365 day rule in family court, Clements said.
Hopkins was apparently never served.
The defense rebuked Clements’ points about his assets, including Hopkins’ access to ones mentioned.
“All of this property they’re speaking of.. is in a certification, a trust that’s filed in this court and it’s in a family trust,” Zmroczek said. “He has no financial relationship or responsibility for any of that. Just because he lived in the house doesn’t mean he gets half of it.”
Hopkins added he was told many belongings were stolen from the home and his pickup truck was sold after being destroyed.
The Honorable Eugene Griffith Junior, who proceeded over the hearing, decided more clarity into Hopkins’ financial status is necessary to determine whether or not he can afford a lawyer.
He said he will ask Hopkins’ daughter to compile an inventory on his assets.
“We need to review them,” Judge Griffith said. “And then after she’s provided you that. If anything else you wish to do, I’m going to reconvene this hearing, probably in 40, 45 days we’ll come back do the same thing again.”
Zmroczek was relieved as her role representing Hopkins at the end of Wednesday’s hearing.
Count on News13 for updates.
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