A Mobile preacher has been found guilty of murdering his wife and raping his step-daughter.
As the verdicts were read aloud in Mobile County Circuit Judge John Lockett’s courtroom, Hopkins stared ahead with no visible emotion.
“We have a number of children who have been harmed by this man, and the chances of them ever fully recovering are very slim,” Mobile County Assistant District Attorney Ashley Rich said outside court.
Still, Rich said, the young women who had the courage to testify against him “are very strong.”
Prosecutors argued that Hopkins murdered 36-year-old Arletha Hopkins in the midst of a fight in December 2004 after she learned he was sexually abusing his stepdaughter.
During the trial, that stepdaughter, now 21, said she helped Hopkins bury her mother’s body before transferring it to a freezer.
It was found by police in 2008 after the stepdaughter, the oldest of eight children, came forward to police.
On Friday, jurors listened to Hopkins testify in his own defense. He said he found his wife dead in their house but was too scared to call 911.
Hopkins said he feared that he would be a suspect in her death and would go to jail, and he didn’t want his children to be separated.
He said he asked his 16-year-old stepdaughter to help dispose of the body because it was “too heavy.”
“I felt bad doing it, but I didn’t want my wife to decompose,” Hopkins said. “I didn’t want her stinking. It was my wife.”
“I knew a freezer would preserve a body, at least until I came forward,” Hopkins said later.
Earlier this week, the stepdaughter testified that Hopkins jumped up and down on her mother’s body to squeeze it into the freezer. But Hopkins denied that.
He said his wife’s body “fit snuggly,” although “I did press the freezer down.”
A few of the Hopkins children testified that their parents were fighting the night their mother died. She kicked Anthony Hopkins out of the house, but he crawled back in through a window, according to testimony.
One girl said she saw him holding a hammer.
On the witness stand, Hopkins also denied sexually abusing his stepdaughter, although he said he did have sex with her in 2008, when she was 19.
He said she approached him in the living room wearing a “chocolate negligee.”
“From that point, I was tempted and I yielded to the temptation,” Hopkins testified. “As a result, she got pregnant.”
Rich questioned Hopkins about finding his wife’s body, asking “if you loved her so much … why didn’t you give her a funeral?”
Hopkins quietly replied, “I wished I would have.”
Rich read parts of letters that Hopkins confirmed he had written to family and friends from the Mobile County Metro Jail.
In one letter, Hopkins wrote “from 1993 to 2008, I knew I wasn’t right due to the struggle that I could at times not resist,” Rich said.
Hopkins wrote that his 2008 arrest began a “purification process,” Rich said.
Authorities apprehended him at a church revival in Jackson as he was giving a sermon.
Arletha Hopkins’ death was ruled a homicide, but investigators couldn’t determine exactly how she died.
Lockett scheduled the sentencing hearing for May 6.
Preacher puts dead wife in freezer and goes to church http://www.privateofficer.com
Anthony Hopkins, 37, was being held in the Mobile County jail Wednesday awaiting a bond hearing and appointment of an attorney.
Police said no one reported 36-year-old Arletha Hopkins missing, even though she hadn’t been heard from in three years. The body was discovered covered in a freezer in a utility room during a police search of the home in Mobile after a relative of the preacher contacted police.
Mobile Police Chief Phillip Garrett said Hopkins was arrested Monday night at a revival in Jackson, a town in rural Clarke County where he has roots. The pastor of Inspirational Tabernacle Church of God in Christ, Beverly Jackson, told reporters that Hopkins told her he was a single parent because his wife had died in childbirth.
Police awaited results of forensic tests to determine the cause of death, but Garrett said authorities believe it is Hopkins’ wife. The freezer was moved to a forensics lab.
Garrett said Anthony Hopkins, the father of six of the eight children, has been charged with rape and sodomy in a separate case involving the female relative and could face more charges related to another relative.
Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson Jr. said the children who lived with Hopkins – who ranged in age from 3 to 19 – have been taken into protective custody by the Department of Human Resources.
Garrett said the Hopkins children were home-schooled. He said Hopkins “kept to himself,” and apparently moved from place to place. Neighbors called him “Rev.” because he attended church so often, loading the children into a van.
Police said he preached at various churches and did not appear to be affiliated with a particular denomination.
At the church in Jackson, Hopkins was delivering a message about forgiveness that drew encouraging “amens” from the congregation.
Clarke County Sheriff’s Chief Investigator Sgt. Ron Baggett said he listened through the church door before assisting in the arrest about 10 p.m. Monday. About 25 people were in the congregation at the time.