MOBILE, Ala. -- People who heard traveling evangelist Anthony Hopkins deliver sermons in the rural Southern towns where he preached sometimes called him a psychic or even a prophet.
But prosecutors say the former soldier kept dark secrets while
spreading God's word.
Hopkins, 39, was arrested in 2008 while preaching a rural
revival in Clarke County.
A teenage relative allegedly pregnant
with his baby led police to the body of 36-year-old Arletha
Hopkins, a mother of eight ranging in age from an infant to late
Investigators say Hopkins killed his wife in 2004 after she
caught him having sex with a female relative, then stuffed her body
into a freezer at the Mobile home he shared with her, six children
and two stepchildren.
Nicholas L. Jackson Sr., pastor of a small church in Jackson
where Hopkins sometimes preached, told a local newspaper in 2008
that many who heard him considered him a prophet with psychic
"When he told you something was going to happen, you could
pretty much count on it," he said.
He described Arletha Hopkins as quiet.
Authorities have said the
children were home-schooled and largely kept out of sight of
neighbors and others in the community.
Hopkins told some church
associates that his wife had died in 2004 giving birth to their
He faces life in prison. He looked on attentively during jury
selection, making frequent and lengthy eye contact with jurors,
taking notes and conferring with his attorneys as about 60
potential jurors were questioned during the selection process that
One said she watched Hopkins and several of his daughters
perform as part of a family musical group at a religious event a
few years ago. Several others said they had attended churches with
ties to Hopkins.
Only four said they had not heard or read news
reports about the case.
Assistant District Attorney Ashley Rich said several of Hopkins'
young female relatives are expected to testify during a weeklong
"It is a very sensitive, emotionally difficult type of case,"
Hopkins was previously arrested in Saraland, near Mobile, in
1998 for being absent without leave from the U.S. Army in Fort
Bragg, N.C., from June 15, 1995, until April 6, 1998.
It is unclear
how military authorities resolved the case and attorneys declined
to answer questions about Hopkins' background Monday, saying
Circuit Judge John Lockett had ordered them not to discuss the case
Prosecutors have previously said Hopkins has no steady
employment record and has ties to Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi,
Texas and North Carolina through his time in the military and his
He lived in Mobile for about eight years before his arrest,
working for about four years as a nurse's aid at a state mental
facility and four years at a ship yard.