Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Breaking News

May 30, 2013

Goshen man sentenced to 65 years for Hopper murder

GOSHEN — Luis Bailey, 18, Goshen, was sentenced to 65 years in prison during a hearing this morning in Elkhart Circuit Court.

He had previously admitted to murdering Norma Jean Hopper in her home in December.

During the sentencing hearing, Hopper’s sister and two nieces testified regarding the impact of the crime.

Bailey, 19751 C.R. 18, admitted he killed Hopper, 76, 54640 Michael Drive, Elkhart, in her home Dec. 21 during a break-in. The murder weapon was a fence post from her yard, Bailey said under questioning when he pled guilty to the crime May 2. In return for his plea, prosecutors agreed not to seek life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Authorities have said that at the time of the murder, Bailey was spending the night with his girlfriend, who lived near the Hopper home. The girlfriend later told police Bailey left the residence around 2 a.m.

During the May 2 plea bargain, Baily in responding to questions from Chief Deputy Prosecutor Vicki Becker said he went to the Hopper residence.

“I looked in the house from the outside” and saw car keys, Bailey said from the witness stand, a cross hanging from a necklace around his neck. He rang the doorbell, and someone turned lights on.

Bailey left the Hopper home, but later returned. He said he entered through a window, with a post taken from a fence in Hopper’s yard as well as scissors.

“(Hopper) was going to get up out of bed,” Bailey said of what happened when he was inside the home. “...I beat her to death.”

Bailey said he left the home with a bag of change, car keys and jewelry. He drove away from the scene in Hopper’s 1998 Lumina. The vehicle was later found abandoned in Michigan.

Around 10:30 a.m. Dec. 21, Hopper’s niece, Gaylene Beaird, called police. Beaird said she’d entered her aunt’s home and found Hopper dead.

Bailey admitted telling people including his brother and a friend what he’d done. Brought in for questioning, he also told police, and led investigators to the murder weapon.

“Why did you do this?,” Becker asked Bailey on May 2 of his crime.

“I couldn’t tell you,” Bailey replied. He did indicate he was trying to get money to buy marijuana. The teen also said he suffers from depression and anxiety.

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Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

I think it’s a good idea to feed all the students free of charge
I think those who can afford it should pay for their school meals
I think all students should be required to pay for their school meals
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