Accused Florence police killer opts out of preliminary hearing

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The man accused of killing two law enforcement officers in Florence County and wounding five others asked to be “excused” from a preliminary hearing Wednesday morning.

Fred Hopkins Jr., 74, told Magistrate Mia Weaver of Marlboro County that his rights were violated and he objected to the hearing because it wasn’t held within the 10 days required by law, 12th Circuit Solicitor Ed Clements said. Preliminary hearings are intended to establish probable cause for an arrest.

The solicitor denied Hopkins’ allegation, saying the hearing was scheduled within the appropriate time.

Clements said Hopkins, a disbarred lawyer who is representing himself “for now, “wasted” his hearing.

Watching the proceedings was one of the victims of the shooting, Florence County Deputy Arie Davis, who was in a wheelchair with her leg in a brace.

Fred Hopkins faces two charges of murder and five charges of attempted murder after officers were ambushed Oct. 3 at a home in Florence.

Authorities say deputies were ambushed at Hopkins’ home when they arrived for an arranged interview with his son Seth David Hopkins. Seth Hopkins, who was a suspect in a case involving criminal sexual conduct with a minor, has since been charged in that case.

As deputies arrived at the family home, the elder Hopkins opened fire, killing Florence police officer Sgt. Terrence Carraway and wounding six more. Florence County Sheriff’s Department Investigator Farrah Turner died Oct. 22 from injuries suffered in the shooting.

Clements said that while Wednesday’s proceeding was “quiet,” a lot of work is to be done before the case heads to the grand jury for a potential indictment.

“It’ll be a little while” before a trial begins, Clements said.

Cheryl Graham, the godmother of Arie Davis, said it was emotional for the deputy to be near the man accused of killing Turner, a fellow officer and friend.

“She was a little apprehensive but she wanted to be here,” Graham said of Davis.

Graham, a judge herself in Marion County, said Hopkins’ defiance of the court was difficult to watch. But she recognizes everyone’s constitutional rights.

While the trial was a reminder of Turner, Davis “knows that Farrah would want her to go forward and be well,” Graham said.

Both deputies’ devotion to community service won’t be halted because of Turner’s death or the stalled preliminary hearing, Graham said.

“What was supposed to end their lives actually expanded it,” Graham said, because everyone knows Davis’ and Turner’s commitment to their community.