Teen pleads guilty to woman’s murder

Luis Bailey could face a 65-year prison sentence.
Posted on May 2, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on May 2, 2013 at 11:55 a.m.

GOSHEN — Luis Bailey pleaded guilty to a murder charge in the December death of an elderly Elkhart woman and is facing a 65-year prison sentence.

Bailey recounted the details of 76-year-old Norma Hopper’s death in a court hearing Thursday, May 2, in Elkhart Circuit Court.

Bailey was in a relationship with a woman who lived near Hopper, according to police. Answering chief deputy prosecutor Vicki Becker’s questions, Bailey told the court he went to Hopper’s house at 54640 Michael Drive, Elkhart, early Dec. 21, 2012, looked inside from a window for items he could steal, and rang her doorbell. As soon as he saw lights going on inside the house he left.

Shortly after 3 a.m. Dec. 21, Hopper contacted county police to say someone was ringing her doorbell. Patrol officers checked on the residence, but found no one.

Later that morning Bailey said he went out again looking into other houses with the intention to steal from them and decided to go back to Hopper’s residence.

Carrying a pair of scissors and a metal fence pole he found outside in a yard, Bailey went in through a window. When he heard Hopper get out from her bed he beat her with the fence pole.

Bailey said he took a bag of change and car keys from Hopper’s house and left in her car.

A family member found her body in the home around 10:30 a.m. Hopper’s car was found abandoned in Michigan.

Bailey, who turned 18 since his arrest, accepted a plea agreement that includes a 65-year sentence. Had he gone to trial, he faced life imprisonment without parole.

He was arrested Dec. 23, 2012, two days after Hopper’s death.

Becker asked Bailey if he remembered what motivated him to beat Hopper. He could not recall until Becker reminded him he told police at the time of his arrest that he wanted money to buy marijuana.

Bailey’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 30.

Hopper’s niece and sister were at the plea hearing, but they declined to comment on the case.

“I want it to be over,” said Hopper’s sister as she walked out of the courthouse.

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