Crime I WCTV Eyewitness News: Tallahassee, Thomasville, Valdosta

Families Feud Outside Courthouse In Wake Of Sentencing


By: Lanetra Bennett
November 22, 2013

Quincy, FL - Deputies had to step in and break up a confrontation outside a Gadsden County courtroom this afternoon.

It happened as family members came face to face after a judge sentenced a man in a deadly shooting.

Before announcing his decision, the judge said that his sentence for 33-year-old Omar Mercer would make everyone inside of the packed courtroom upset. He was right.

An argument between families started outside of the Gadsden County Court Annex in the middle of WCTV's interview with Anthony Hopkins' family.

33-year-old Omar Mercer had just been sentenced to 13 years in prison for killing Hopkins..

Mercer's girlfriend--who was six months pregnant when he was arrested--was one of a half of dozen loved ones to ask the judge to be lenient Friday.

Shanita Robinson told the judge, "He missed our son being delivered. he missed his first birthday. He just wants to be a part of his life, a part of our lives."

Mercer pled no contest to shooting Hopkins in August 2012.

Witnesses testified the men were with a group of friends outside of the Senior Center in Quincy after a party, when all of a sudden Mercer shot Hopkins.

The prosecutor says he shot Hopkins four times in the back and once in the calf.

Doris Greene, Hopkins' aunt, says, "They were supposed to have been friends and he shot him in the back. I'm sorry he did that. I'm sorry he got to spend the time that he's spending. But, shooting a person in the back? How can it be manslaughter."

"I wish he would've gotten life; wish he would've gotten the chair. But, I know who has the last say so." Says, Hopkins' mother, Stephanie Hopkins.

Mercer says it was self-defense when he apologized to Hopkins' family in court. He told the family that he wish he'd handled things differently that deadly night. He also says there's not a day that goes by that he doesn't think about it.

While wiping his tears, he says before walking from the podium, "All I can do is offer my sincere apologies."

Mercer gets more than a year off his 13-year sentence for time served. His prison term will be followed by five years of probation.


By: Lanetra Bennett
November 22, 2013, 12:45pm

Emotions flared as sentencing was handed down to Omar Mercer in the deadly shooting of Anthony Hopkins.

The tension came to a head as both families fought outside of the courthouse in the wake of a nearly 14-year sentence for Mercer, who pleaded no contest to a manslaughter charge.

Deputies intervened and were able to get the families under control; Quincy Police has stayed behind in case another altercation is to happen.


By: Lanetra Bennett
November 22, 2013, 12:30pm

Omar Mercer Sentence

166 months (approximately 13.8 years)
476 days credit in jail
60 months probation
Courts costs and fines


By: Lanetra Bennett
November 22, 2013, 12pm

Mercer is making a statement.

He told Hopkin's family that not a day goes by that he doesn't think of what happened.


By: Lanetra Bennett
November 22, 2013, 11:30am

Tamyra Brown, Mercer's cousin, testified that Mercer is not an aggressive person, and would typically ignore confrontation. She says Mercer felt in danger that night, and that the shooting was a "natural human response."

Shanita Robinson, Mercer's girlfriend and mother of his one-year-old child asked the judge for leniency, and says Mercer was caring and easy going. She was six months pregnant when Mercer was arrested.

Another friend of Mercer's and his older sister also testified on Mercer's behalf.


By: Lanetra Bennett
November 22, 2013, 11am

A packed courtroom looked on as sentencing began for Omar Mercer, who pleaded no contest to a manslaughter charge in the 2012 fatal shooting of 23-year-old Anthony Hopkins.

The cousin, aunt, and mother of Hopkins addressed the court during the sentencing, describing Hopkins as a "mannerable" person. They say hearts are heavy because of the loss of their loved one, and they'll celebrate Mercer's going to prison today.

Defense attorney called a witness to the stand to try to prove Mercer shot in self defense. Mercer's friend, Michael Knox says Hopkins fired a gun outside of the party then said it discharged on accident.

He explained that all of a sudden he heard shots and Mercer was holding a gun and Hopkins was on ground.

Mercer's brother, Akbar Mercer, also took the stand, and said he remembers thinking something was wrong with his brother when he called him to come to a party he was at. Akbar grabbed Omar after the shooting, got in car and drove off.

Investigator Robert Maxwell with GCSO is on the stand now.


By: Lanetra Bennett
November 22, 2013, 10am

Gadsden County, FL -- A local man who pleaded no contest to manslaughter in a shooting back in 2012 is in court today.

Omar Mercer could learn his fate today in the Gadsden County Courthouse after the shooting death of Anthony Hopkins.

Hopkins' loved ones addressed the court today, describing him as a “mannerable” person. Defense attorneys say Mercer shot Hopkins in self-defense.

Mercer's cousin says he felt threatened and called the shooting a "natural human response."

The shooting stemmed from an argument outside a private party near the Gadsden Senior Center in August of last year.

An arrest report says Hopkins was found with multiple gunshot wounds on the ground just behind the hospital across the street from the senior center.

WCTV will keep you posted on a decision in the case.


[UPDATE] Gadsden County, Florida- August 15, 2012- 11:52pm

As they shout, "Ain't no stopping until we get justice for Anthony Hopkins," a group of family and friends are determined to use their pain and their voices to try to end violence in their community.

Twenty-three year old Anthony Hopkins was shot several times at a party, held at the Gadsden County Senior Center. This happened in the early morning hours of August 4th. Shortly after, sheriff's deputies say the accused shooter, Omar Mercer, surrendered and told them he shot Hopkins when they got into a fight.

"The Hopkins family will never see him again, hear his voice again, talk to him again, hold him again, hug him again," said Yvonne McMillan, one of Hopkins cousins.

The family now wants to turn its loss into a message, as they stand and chant on a corner near the Gadsden County Courthouse.

"What we're trying to do is tell everyone to put the guns down," said Harold McNeill, a long-time friend of the Hopkins family.

They hope those who drove by them Wednesday evening would take notice of their signs, and their tragedy, and think before acting.

Investigators with the Gadsden County Sheriff's Department say the investigation into Hopkins' death is ongoing even after Mercer's arrest.

"We're working this case as hard as we work any case," said Investigator Ulysses Jenkins.

He said they're still looking for witnesses to help piece together all the details of the night the Hopkins family lost a loved ones. Investigators also urge the family to contact them if they have any questions about the case, or any information that could help.

Mercer has since been charged with homicide and carrying a concealed weapon.


Gadsden County, Florida- August 7, 2012

An arrest report says Anthony Hopkins was found with multiple gunshot wounds on the ground just behind the emergency room in Gadsden County.

Omar Mercer has been charged in the death of 23-year-old Anthony Hopkins.

The Gadsden County Sheriff's Office was called to a shooting at the Gadsden Senior Center.

The hospital is across the street from the senior center.

The hospital was not locked down during the incident.

A copy of the arrest report is attached to this story.


Gadsden County, Florida- August 6, 2012

Stephanie Hopkins got the call no mother ever wants.

"They said he'd been shot," said Hopkins recalling the frantic conversation with a family member.

"I called him and called and he never answered," Hopkins continued.

Hopkins was calling her son, Anthony Hopkins, repeatedly early Saturday morning.

She knew he was going to a party the night before.

Then she heard he'd been shot.

"He was just "Boo"," said Hopkins. "He was never any trouble to me."

Gadsden County investigators found Hopkins shot, but alive near the Gadsden Senior Center in Quincy, which is near the health department and hospital.

The building had been rented out for a private party Friday night.
By 2 a.m. Saturday, it had become a crime scene.

"We got a call around 2 a.m. Saturday that there had been a shooting at a party. When we got there, we found 23-year-old Anthony Hopkins shot several times," said Gadsden County Investigator Ulysses Jenkins.

Hopkins didn't survive.

Omar Mercer was arrested at his Quincy home for the shooting and is charged with homicide and carrying a concealed weapon.

Mercer told investigators that Hopkins got mad when Mercer's family member showed up at the party.

Mercer reported the family member was there because he couldn't find his car keys.

That's when Mercer says Hopkins tried to get a gun from him, and Mercer shot the 23-year-old.

Stephanie Hopkins isn't sure what to believe. She has heard a number of accounts that she says, don't make sense.

Regardless of how it happened, she knows her son is gone.

"I'm not angry with that person, because I know I can't be angry," said Hopkins, "But I'm hurt because my son got shot in the back."

Investigators won't say how the reported problem escalated to gunfire or where exactly on the property the shooting took place.

GCSO won't release the arrest report at this time.


THE FOLLOWING IS A MEDIA RELEASE FROM THE GADSDEN COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE:

Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office responded to early Saturday morning shooting during a party that left one person dead. Omar Ahmed Mercer, a 31year old Quincy native, surrendered to investigators at his Quincy home after he shot and killed 23 year old Anthony Jerome Hopkins, who is also a Quincy native.

Hopkins became upset when Mercer had a family member arrive after Mercer could not locate his car keys. When Hopkins attempted to grab a firearm Mercer shot him several times.

Hopkins was later pronounced dead after being transported to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital.

Sheriff Morris A. Young states, “This is a tragedy that didn’t have to happen. A young life taken during a senseless act is becoming far too common across the United States. This is one of the reasons why we work so hard with our youth to try and deter incidents just like this.”

Investigators are still interviewing witnesses. If you have any information regarding the incident you are asked to contact Inv. Robbie Maxwell at (850) 251-5834.


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