FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) – The family of one of the two Florence officers killed in an ambush last October say they are “deeply angered” by the words of the accused murderer, which ran in a South Carolina newspaper this past weekend.
Britney Weaver, an attorney and the first cousin of Florence County Sheriff’s Inv. Farrah Turner, released a statement Monday on behalf of Turner’s family after multiple articles were recently published by the Charleston-based The Post and Courier newspaper.
“Giving a voice to a murderer to prematurely plea his case before ‘the court of public opinion’ and to potentially taint a future jury pool is disgusting and distasteful,” the statement read in part.
In letters published by The Post and Courier, Fred Hopkins blames severe post-traumatic stress disorder for what happened.
In the three letters he wrote, Hopkins described a four-decade battle with PTSD that included hospitalization and therapy starting in 1977, when he retired from U.S. Army active duty following combat in Vietnam, according to The Post and Courier.
When deputies arrived at his house Oct. 3 to interview his son about sexual assault allegations, Hopkins writes that he went into “Saigon-mode,” The Post and Courier reported.
Turner was one of seven officers who were shot during the deadly ambush in the Vintage Place neighborhood. She died from her injuries weeks later. Sgt. Terrence Carraway, an officer with the Florence Police Department, was also shot and killed that day.
Hopkins faces two counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder in connection with the shooting.
“We have refrained from corresponding with the media in an attempt to allow justice to be served. So, despite this murderer finding a platform to spread his propaganda, we will rise above evil and continue to do so,” Turner’s family said.
WMBF News reached out to Jay Bender, the legal counsel for the South Carolina Press Association, about the ethical questions that arise when covering a story like this one from all angles.
Bender said while the family has a right to be upset, he wants to assure them the letters published in the report will not thwart the justice system.
“I think the family’s hurt is quite understandable. I think their dispute with the newspaper is displaced because there are protections usually in the careful examination of potential jurors to make sure the jury selected is unbiased,” Bender said.
A trial date for Hopkins has not been set. His son, Seth Hopkins, faces two counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor.
Turner’s family called her a “champion of children” and said she went to the Vintage Place home “as part of that mission.”
“To comment further would only serve to dignify the words of a calculated, cold-blooded murderer,” the family’s statement read.
To read the entire report in The Post and Courier, click here.