“I can’t believe this happened to me,” Dr. Matthew Hopkins said in Park County District Court last week. “I’m rather stunned by it, I will admit. I had been doing very well when I got out of treatment.”
Hopkins went through a month-long treatment program after a head-on crash in March; prosecutors say he caused the collision by getting high off of compressed air. Hopkins faces a felony count of aggravated assault in that case, along with a misdemeanor charge of driving while under the influence of a controlled substance.
In June, Hopkins was also placed on unsupervised probation for backing into a parked car in the Cody Walgreens’ parking lot and leaving the scene last year; the Park County Attorney’s Office initially charged Hopkins with driving under the influence of alcohol and/or prescription medication for that November incident, but ultimately decided they didn’t have enough evidence and dropped that charge last month. Deputy Park County Prosecuting Attorney Branden Vilos said part of the issue was that responding Cody police officers never asked for or obtained a blood sample from Hopkins.
At a June 28 sentencing hearing in Circuit Court for the Walgreens hit-and-run, Hopkins agreed with his defense attorney, Bill Simpson of Cody, that he needed to stay sober.
“Although the allegations are significant, it could have been much worse, and I think he has taken that as some kind of sign that he needs to continue to maintain his sobriety to ensure not only his safety, but the safety of the people in and around him,” Simpson said of Hopkins. “And to hopefully one day go back to what he did very well at one point in time — which was be a doctor of psychiatry and service a great many people and give them hope and assistance.”
Simpson — who is himself about to become a judge — asked Circuit Court Judge Bruce Waters to give Hopkins some hope and assistance, too, by putting him on probation and not giving him the 20 days of jail time requested by the prosecution.
“Whatever terms and conditions Judge Waters imposed, do we have your word that you’ll adhere to that?” Simpson asked his client.
“Yes, you do,” Hopkins said.
Judge Waters went with probation and imposed conditions that included a requirement to not drink alcohol.
However, two days later, on the afternoon of June 30, a citizen reported that a man on a bicycle had fallen near Big Horn Avenue and was having a hard time getting up.
Responding Cody police officers say they found and arrested an uncooperative, intoxicated Hopkins, with a bottle of Smirnoff vodka in his pocket. A breath test later pegged Hopkins’ blood alcohol content at 0.215 percent, Cody police say — more than 2 1/2 times the level at which a person is considered too intoxicated to drive.
Prosecutors filed motions to revoke Hopkins’ bond and probation over the incident, holding him in jail.
In district court last week, Deputy Park County Attorney Leda Pojman asked that Hopkins’ bond in the huffing/aggravated assault case be hiked from $20,000 — which he had posted with the help of a bondsman — to a $50,000 bond that can only be posted in cash.
“He flat-out does what he wants when he wants with complete disregard for this court’s order; he doesn’t listen; he doesn’t care,” Pojman said of Hopkins.
She also called him an extreme danger to society.
“It’s not going to stop until he kills somebody, your honor,” Pojman argued.
Hopkins disagreed, saying he had “15 years clean and sober before all this and it was a slip” and suggested a $5,000 surety bond would be appropriate. He has previously said his relapse stemmed from the death of his father and other issues last year.
“I am not a danger to society. This is a one-time thing,” Hopkins said in court Wednesday. “I have turned my will and my life over to God and I have really done a lot of soul-searching the ... almost two weeks I’ve been in jail. It’s been a terrifying experience; I never want to repeat that again.”
Hopkins previously served nine days in jail before making bail in the two cases.
At his June 28 sentencing for the Walgreens hit-and-run, Hopkins said his two criminal cases had been “extremely” humbling.
“I mean, my medical license is suspended and I may never get it back — and I worked so hard for that, you have no idea,” Hopkins said.
The doctor said he’d lowered his standards to the point that he would take any job, biking around Cody every day looking for one.
“It’s been very difficult because I am 50 years old. That other [huffing] charge was on the front page of the newspaper, so everyone knows about it and I cannot drive,” Hopkins said. “There’s jobs all over the place available for me if I didn’t have a pending felony charge and I could drive. ... But it’s been really tough.”
Speaking in district court last week, Hopkins said people didn’t want to hire him, he suffered a knee injury that left him unable to work out and said his family was out of town at the time he was arrested for allegedly being drunk on his bike. Hopkins appeared to be about to give a detailed account of what happened that day, but Judge Cranfill cut Hopkins off to prevent him from saying something incriminating.
When the judge later agreed with Pojman and set bond at $50,000 cash, Hopkins gave a sigh.
“OK. Is there any way I can get that lowered?” he asked.
“No,” Cranfill said, explaining that Hopkins would have to wait until the next hearing to address bond again.
A trial in the huffing case is currently set to start on Oct. 12.