Federal Jury Finds Deming Residents Guilty on Kidnapping and Firearms Charges
ALBUQUERQUE—A federal jury sitting in Las Cruces, N.M., returned a guilty verdict earlier today finding Jessie Hopper, Sr., 54, and Polly Hopper, 61, of Deming, N.M., guilty on kidnapping and firearms charges after a five-day trial. The verdict was announced by U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez, Special Agent Carol K.O. Lee of the Albuquerque Division of the FBI, Special Agent in Charge Thomas G. Atteberry of the Phoenix Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, New Mexico State Police Chief Pete Kassetas and Luna County Sheriff Jonathon Mooradian.
Hopper, Sr., Polly Hopper, and their co-defendant Jessie A. Hopper, Jr., 30, also of Deming, were arrested in June 2014, on a federal criminal complaint charging them with kidnapping and firearms charges. The three defendants subsequently were charged with conspiracy and kidnapping in a six-count indictment filed in May. 2014. The indictment also charged Hopper, Sr., and Hopper Jr., with brandishing a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, being felons in possession of firearms, and unlawfully possessing a sawed-off shotgun.
On Nov. 21, 2014, Hopper, Jr., entered a guilty plea to the five charges against him. Hopper, Sr., and Polly Hopper elected to proceed to trial, which commenced on Feb. 23, 2015 and concluded early this afternoon when the jury returned a guilty verdict finding both guilty on all charges against them.
The evidence at trial established that the three defendants kidnapped a woman and transported her in interstate commerce. It established that Hopper, Jr., and Hopper, Sr., kidnapped the victim in Hot Springs, Ark., on May 8, 2014, with the assistance of Polly Hopper. Hopper, Jr., handcuffed the victim and a firearm was brandished at the victim to force her to comply with Hopper, Jr.’s demands, including a demand that she telephone family members to assure them that she was voluntarily leaving Arkansas with Hopper, Jr. On May 8 and 9, 2014, the three defendants drove the victim from Arkansas to the defendants’ residence in Deming, where Hopper, Jr., and Hopper Sr., sexually assaulted the victim several times.
All three defendants have been in federal custody since their arrests and remain detained pending sentencing hearings, which have yet to be scheduled. At sentencing, each of the defendants faces a maximum of life imprisonment on the kidnapping charges. Hopper, Sr., and Hopper, Jr., each face a seven-year prison sentence for brandishing a firearm that must be served consecutive to any sentence imposed on the kidnapping charges.
The three defendants initially were arrested by the New Mexico State Police on state charges on May 10, 2014. They remained in state custody until they were transferred to federal custody on May 16, 2014, to face the charges in the federal case. The state charges, which were filed by the 6th Judicial District Attorney’s Office for the State of New Mexico, were dismissed in favor of federal prosecution.
This case was investigated by the Las Cruces office of the FBI, the Las Cruces office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the New Mexico State Police and the Luna County Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from the 6th Judicial District Attorney’s Office for the State of New Mexico. The FBI in Little Rock, Ark., the Garland County (Arkansas) Sheriff’s Office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Arkansas also assisted in the investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Randy M. Castellano and Maria Y. Armijo of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office.