Suspect’s mother, investigators testify in Marshall County murder trial

MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. – Dale Hopson’s mother, Janice Russell, testified against her own son on the second day of his murder trial in Marshall County.

Hopson is accused of shooting and killing his wife Joyce Bates at their home in Joppa on April 24, 2016.

While on the stand, Russell broke down into tears as she described Bates as a kind and gentle person.

She also explained that she visited the couple at their home the afternoon of the shooting.

Russell told jurors she saw her son drinking and acting erratically by taking handfuls of dirt and saying “ashes to ashes and dust to dust” repeatedly.

She said it caused her to be so concerned that she came up with a ruse to leave and begged Bates to leave with her.

She said Bates refused.

Russell added that Bates told her that in the past, Hopson had threatened to kill her if she ever left him.

Russell was cross examined by court-appointed defense attorney Enza D. Giles.

He asked if she had felt concerned enough to call Bates’ loved ones or police to do a safety check to which she responded no. 

Russell said she didn not think her son would really kill his wife.

Throughout the trial, Hopson kept his head down seemingly staring at his shoes.

“Obviously this is still a distressing situation for him just based on the nature of the charge. it’s something I don’t think an individual will ever be able to get over or ever get passed. He’s working through it,” explained Giles.

But others in the small courtroom crowd, potentially Bates’ loved ones, cried, and even shook their heads while watching video clips of Hopson explaining how the shooting happened.

Several video clips were played for the jurors Wednesday, including Sgt. Cole Patterson’s 22-minute-long body-worn-camera footage on the night of the shooting, which showed Hopson screaming, crying, and saying he didn’t mean to shoot his wife.

Hopson had visible blood on his hands and stomach.

In the initial 911 call, Bates claimed he accidentally shot his wife while cleaning his .357 revolver.

However, during an interrogation video recorded later on the night of the shooting, he said it happened while he was testing the weapon.

Before the end of the day, jurors heard a third explanation during Hopson’s confession tape involving Arab Police Department investigators Sgt. Mark Wright and Sgt. Lauren Harnack as well as Marshall County Sheriff’s Office Chief Investigator Keith Wilson.

In it, Hopson tried to explain how he accidentally pulled the trigger and shot Bates when he swung his arm around to fire a shot out the window after hearing a noise outside.

Hopson voiced  in one of the videos that he was taking medication for Bipolar Disorder.

Prosecutors displayed several images of the scene as well on Wednesday including of bates’ body, the table where the .357 revolver was found, and a close up of the fired bullet still lodged in the wooden chair Bates’ body was sitting in.

Each investigator and responding officer who took the stand Wednesday said they believe the shooting was intentional based on evidence at the scene.

However, Giles said that is not the case.

“Hopefully, the jury sees and understands the theory of the case we present. We’re not contesting the cause of death. It’s an unfortunate, awful, God awful situation,” said Giles.

When News 19 asked if Hopson would take the stand in his own defense, Giles said anything is possible.

He added that things may be wrapped up fairly soon with deliberations possibly happening as early as Friday.