BURNET — The Burnet County assistant district attorney who prosecuted Misty Rae Hopkins for sexually abusing her own daughter for 14 years described the acts as “torture” during closing statements Oct. 19 in Hopkins’ trial.
A jury then spent about one hour deliberating before finding the woman guilty of five counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and four counts of indecency with a child-sexual contact. The same jury recommended the maximum sentence for each count: life for the aggravated sexual assaults and 20 years for the indecency charges.
The trial started Oct. 17 with the conclusion coming two days later in State District Judge Evan Stubbs’ courtroom.
“I’m very pleased with the outcome,” said Stacy Burke, the assistant district attorney who tried the case.
After the jury’s decision and recommendation, Stubbs “stacked” the sentences so Hopkins must serve each one separately, or consecutively.
“It’s hard to put a number on the exact years she’d spend in prison, but she’ll be there for the rest of her life,” Burke said. “She certainly deserves more based on what she did, but the jury maxed her on each sentence, and I think that shows how terrible her actions were.”
Hopkins and her deceased husband, John Hopkins, sexually abused one of their four children starting when the girl was 7 and continuing until she was 21, Burke said.
“Though sometimes, he did it, and sometimes, she did it … much of the abuse was committed at the same time,” Burke said. “That’s one of the things that made this so terrible.”
John Hopkins was the pastor at a Burnet church (the name has since been changed) during part of the time the abuse was going on. He died in December 2013.
Burke said the abuse began in 1999 in Burnet County and continued as the family moved to Blanco County in 2005 and later to Llano County.
The Burnet County case focused on the abuse that occurred from 1999-2005.
“There were four children in the house, but not all of them were sexually abused, though they were all emotionally abused, and others were probably physically abused,” Burke added. “And the parents, they didn’t work, so (the victim) was out working and supporting them. When she was 21, she was finally able to break free and report what they had done to her.”
The district attorney’s office presented an overwhelming amount of evidence which, Burke said, might have led to such a short jury deliberation. She commended the jurors for their work.
“It was an awful case,” Burke said. “Torture is how I described it in my closing arguments to the jury. And it was hard for the jury to hear some of the things that went on in that home, but they did a tremendous job. I’m also glad that the judge stacked the sentences. It was a horrific crime.”
The Burnet Police Department handled the initial investigation after the victim’s outcry in December 2014.