On Wednesday, October 19, 2016, Judge Evan Stubbs of the 424th District Court sentenced Misty Rae Hopkins to 5 life sentences for Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child and twenty years on each of 4 sentences for Indecency With a Child. Misty Hopkins and her late husband, John Hopkins, resided in Burnet where John Hopkins served as pastor at a local area church during the time of the offenses.
The trial began on Monday, October 17, with charges that stemmed from offenses committed in Burnet County between 1999 and 2005. The allegations involved numerous acts of sexual abuse perpetrated by both Misty and John Hopkins acting together as well as acts of abuse by each of the parents individually. The abuse inflicted in Burnet occurred repeatedly from the time the victim was 7. When the victim was 14, the family moved to Blanco County, and then eventually to Llano County. Evidence revealed the abuse continued until the victim was 21 years old when she able to leave the home with her younger siblings, once they were over 17. The evidence further showed that Hopkins and her husband kept the children out of school and even isolated them from other family members. Chief Paul Nelson of the Burnet Police Department did not learn of the offenses until 2014 when the victim came forward to a law enforcement agency in another county outside of the District which forwarded the information to Burnet authorities. At the time the information was learned, John Hopkins was deceased. The jury deliberated for about an hour before returning guilty verdicts for all counts charged.
During the punishment phase of the trial, the 4 children testified about the impact the years of silence, manipulation, and hiding had on them. The jury then returned the maximum prison sentences allowed on all counts, as well as the maximum fine of $10,000 for each offense. As he sentenced Hopkins, Judge Evan Stubbs read the jury’s sentences of confinement, and told Hopkins he had nothing good to say about her and that this was the worst case of abuse he has seen in his 14 years of practicing law. Judge Stubbs further stated to Hopkins, “Yesterday you said that your husband was the head of the house and God will hold him responsible. And I’ll simply tell you I hope he does and I hope he does you as well. And that’s for another day.” He said the acts of abuse were unimaginable and then ordered each of the jury’s sentences “stacked” in that each was to be served consecutively with the previous sentence.
The case was tried by Assistant District Attorneys Stacy Burke and Kristen Sharpe. Hopkins was represented by Burnet County Public Defender, Michelle Moore, and Kama Lawrence. ADA Burke echoed Judge Stubbs in stating Hopkins was the worst pedophile she had encountered in her career. Burke also stated Misty Hopkins is a truly evil person who tortured her children, and the rapid verdict indicated the jury found her guilt overwhelming. Burke and Sharpe thanked the jury and expressed appreciation for the difficult task of listening to the horrific events described during testimony in the case. Sharpe added it was a rewarding outcome for all involved, and hoped all the children can start to close this chapter and go forward with their lives. District Attorney Sonny McAfee said he knows ADA’s Burke and Sharpe put many hours of hard work into prosecuting this case. “They are both very dedicated prosecutors, and I am proud to have them on my team. I am also proud of the work done by the Burnet Chief of Police and officers of the Department. They put together an investigation that enabled justice to finally be served in this case.” McAfee further added his greatest appreciation was for the jurors who had to listen to the terrible facts throughout the trial. He said, “Once more, a Burnet County Jury has demonstrated that the people of our District have no tolerance for the abuse of children whether it occurs today or occurred a decade ago. The citizens on this Jury did a tremendous job.”