In July 1990, Curtis Kearney was shot and killed on a street in Richmond, Virginia. Janice Talley, the woman with Kearney at the time, described the shooter to police and said she heard someone call the man “Squeaky.” A month after the murder, and again a month after that, she identified Troy Hopkins as the shooter from two separate photo arrays. Hopkins was arrested in November 1990 after he told police his nickname was “Squeaky.” Talley identified Hopkins again at his trial. Hopkins’s longtime friend testified that he had witnessed Kearney’s murder and that a 15-year-old named “Scooby” was the shooter. According to the friend, Hopkins was not present that morning. Nonetheless, in December 1990, a jury found Hopkins guilty of first-degree murder, armed robbery, and a weapons charge. Hopkins was sentenced to 28 years in prison.
In February 1992, Adrian Epps, nicknamed “Scooby,” went to police and signed an affidavit confessing to Kearney’s murder after his cousin met Hopkins in jail and told him Epps was responsible for Kearney’s death. Hopkins filed a motion for a new trial based on Epps’s confession, but it was denied because the trial court found that Hopkins had not proven that the evidence was not discoverable before his trial. Subsequent motions were also denied, despite additional witnesses who came forward and identified Epps as the shooter, and agreement from the prosecutor that Hopkins should receive a new trial. Hopkins briefly prevailed when, in September 1994, a three judge panel of the Virginia Court of Appeals overturned his conviction and granted a new trial. The prosecution appealed, however, and in April 1995, the full panel of ten judges of the Virginia Court of Appeals reinstated his conviction. Hopkins remained in prison until he was paroled in March 2001. In 2003, the Richmond Commonwealth’s attorney filed an affidavit stating that Hopkins’s conviction should be invalidated, and in August 2005, Virginia Governor Mark Warned issued Hopkins a full pardon. Hopkins was awarded approximately $230,000 in compensation plus tuition credits by the Virginia Legislature in April 2006.
- Stephanie Denzel