Wyoming Supreme Court Upholds Conviction of Psychiatrist Matthew Hopkins

August 14, 2019

The Wyoming Supreme Court says there was more than enough evidence to convict a former Cody psychiatrist of aggravated assault and battery for crashing into another vehicle while high.

On Tuesday, the state’s highest court rejected Matthew V. Hopkins’ appeal of his felony conviction, upholding a Park County jury’s decision from last year.

Hopkins received an 18- to 36-month prison sentence for the offense in June 2018 and has already been released. A spokesman for the Wyoming Department of Corrections said Hopkins was paroled last month and is now living in Texas.

Hopkins was apologetic at his sentencing last year and has never disputed the basic facts of the case: He got high off a can of compressed air on the morning of March 14, 2017, and passed out while driving to his office, crashing into an oncoming vehicle and injuring the other driver.

However, Hopkins has contended that his actions did not amount to aggravated assault and battery, defined as “knowingly caus[ing] bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon.” (In this case, the Park County Attorney’s Office said his Toyota FJ Cruiser qualified as a weapon.)

The primary issue Hopkins’ court-appointed attorneys raised on appeal was whether the county attorney’s office had proven he had acted “knowingly.” The defense attorneys contended that, in order to win a conviction, prosecutors needed to show Hopkins “purposefully” hit the other vehicle.

“Mr. Hopkins reasoned that he could not have hit the victim’s vehicle on purpose because he was passed out when he veered into oncoming traffic and, further, that the incident was not foreseeable because he had never before lost consciousness while using inhalants,” Supreme Court Justice Lynne Boomgaarden summarized in Tuesday’s opinion.

However, she and the other four justices unanimously rejected those arguments, finding that Wyoming law does not require prosecutors to show someone committed aggravated assault and battery on purpose. Rather, Boomgaarden said the question for the jury was whether Hopkins acted “voluntarily.”

Source: “Court upholds ex psychiatrist’s aggravated assault conviction,” Powell Tribune, July 25, 2019

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