GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - A man released from prison last summer after serving time for a drug-related murder is facing more than a decade behind bars for trafficking cocaine in Grand Rapids.
Keith Vonta Hopskin pleaded guilty in April to a federal cocaine trafficking charge following his arrest in Southeast Grand Rapids with more than a pound of cocaine.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Jonker on Friday, Oct. 21 sentenced him to 12 years in prison and ordered Hopskin to pay a 2,500 fine. Hopskin will also have to spend four years on supervised release once he gets out of prison.
Hopskin, 39, has faced “considerable adversity’’ in his life, including a dysfunctional childhood and his first drug arrest at the age of 13, defense attorney Brian P. Lennon wrote in a sentencing memorandum.
Hopskin’s Grand Rapids neighborhood “went downhill quickly when crack cocaine became popular,’’ leading him down a “dangerous, antisocial and self-destructive path,’’ Lennon wrote.
Hopskin was arrested in Oct. 2015 during a drug raid on Dunham Street west of Fuller Avenue SE. He admitted to having at least a pound of cocaine he planned to distribute.
He "dashed to the basement bathroom to presumably dispose of drug evidence'' during a raid by the Kent Area Narcotics Enforcement Team, according to a federal criminal complaint.
Police recovered more than 19 ounces of cocaine and a handgun beneath a mattress used by Hopskin, court records show.
Hopskin told police he had been receiving several ounces of cocaine about two times a month following his July, 2015 release from prison. He sold cocaine to pay his bills and support himself, court records show.
The drug offense is punishable by between five and 40 years in prison. Federal prosecutors asked for a stiff sentence, given Hopskin’s lengthy criminal past.
His background includes a federal cocaine trafficking conviction in New Mexico and a second-degree murder conviction in Kent County.
Hopskin in 2001 was convicted in the Nov. 1998 murder of Yancey Gray, whose body was found in a shallow grave off Five Mile Road near East Beltline Avenue NE. He admitted to beating the victim over an unpaid drug debt and was sentenced to between 12 and 37 years in prison.
(© 2016 WZZM)