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Maurice Hopkins

Other Arkansas Exonerations
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On February 23, 2014, 32-year-old Maurice Hopkins, a police officer in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, was accused of raping a woman that he was interviewing after answering a call for help from another woman in the same apartment complex.

Hopkins and other officers were summoned to a domestic disturbance call involving Josephine Roberson and Emanuel Foster. While the officers were there, 25-year-old E.A. approached. She said she knew Foster was a paranoid schizophrenic and that he was likely having an episode. At Hopkins’s request, E.A. got some water for Foster and helped calm him down.

After a short time, Foster was taken into custody. E.A. said Hopkins then came to her apartment, saying he needed to take a statement from her. While there, she said he forced her onto a couch and raped her.

Hopkins was arrested three days later and charged with sexually assaulting E.A. Within days, the Pine Bluff police department fired Hopkins.

Hopkins went to trial in Jefferson County Circuit Court in February 2016. In the months leading up to the trial, the prosecution had requested that an arrest warrant be issued for E.A. because she refused to respond to the prosecution’s request to come to court.

Eventually, she agreed to testify and told a jury that when Hopkins first came to her apartment, he said he needed to get a statement about what happened between Roberson and Foster. She said she told Hopkins she didn’t see what happened. She said he then asked for her telephone number in case he needed to contact her later.

E.A. said that Hopkins asked if anyone else was home. When she said she was alone, Hopkins forced her onto a loveseat and raped her, she said.

Hopkins’s defense attorney sought to question E.A. because she had consulted with an attorney about filing a civil lawsuit against the city of Pine Bluff.

In addition, after E.A. testified that she was afraid of guns and street gangs, the defense wanted to question her about evidence that she was antagonistic toward law enforcement because she was affiliated with the “Crips” street gang. Specifically, he wanted to ask E.A. about her postings on social media where she was “throwing” gang signs and making several references to the “Crips.” The defense also wanted to call a Pine Bluff police officer to testify that E.A.’s posts depicted gang signs and indicated her involvement with the street gang.

After the prosecution objected, the trial judge refused to allow the questions or the testimony from the officer.

Hopkins testified in his own behalf. He denied that he raped E.A., and told the jury that he and E.A. had consensual intercourse.

On February 23, 2016, the jury convicted Hopkins of second-degree sexual assault. He was sentenced to 12 years and six months in prison.

In May 2017, the Court of Appeals of Arkansas vacated Hopkins’s conviction and ordered a new trial, ruling that the defense should have been allowed to question E.A. about her intention to file a civil lawsuit. The court said E.A.’s credibility was a “critical ingredient” in the case.

“It is without question that if E.A. should decide to pursue a civil action based on the events described in (this) case, a pecuniary interest would be involved, and it is undisputed that she sought counsel about the possibility of pursuing such an action,” the appeals court said.

“Yet, Hopkins was not allowed to inform the jury of that fact. We conclude the trial court abused its discretion in excluding this information. Witness credibility is a linchpin in cases such as this where the jury is essentially confronted with a swearing match.”

The court did not rule on whether the defense should have been allowed to question E.A. about her gang affiliation.

On February 6, 2019, the prosecution moved to dismiss the case. “In preparation for trial, numerous attempts have been made to serve the victim and several civilian witnesses to no avail,” the motion said. Based on the inability to locate the witnesses, the prosecution asked that the charge be dismissed.

On February 7, 2019, the motion was granted and Hopkins was released.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 2/21/2019
State:Arkansas
County:Jefferson
Most Serious Crime:Sexual Assault
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2014
Convicted:2016
Exonerated:2019
Sentence:12 years and 6 months
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age at the date of reported crime:32
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No