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Richardton sex crime suspect given time to consider state offer

Clayton Hopper

A Richardton man was granted a one-week extension to consider an offer from prosecutors in the case against him in which he faces multiple felony gross sexual imposition charges.

James Hope, assistant Stark County state's attorney, said at a pretrial hearing for Clayton Hopper, 32, at the Stark County Courthouse on Tuesday that he sent the recommendations to Hopper's attorney, Kevin McCabe, Tuesday morning.

The recommendations were not discussed in court.

McCabe requested a one-week extension to talk the recommendations over with his client.

Judge Zane Anderson granted the motion and said another pretrial conference and a trial date will be set.

Hopper, 32, who is accused of having sexual contact with a minor under age 15, according to the criminal complaint.

Hopper was charged with three Class A felony charges and one Class AA felony charge.

He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison for the Class AA felony and a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for each of the Class A felony charges against him.

Should the case go to trial, Hope said three days should be sufficient to try the case.

Anderson suggested compiling a 48-member jury pool with 35 jurors to be selected for trial.

Hope said he didn't know if it would be necessary to draw up a questionnaire for the jurors.

"All of the people involved in the case are newcomers to the area, so they don't have a large network of friends or relatives to worry about," he said.

McCabe concurred.

"There's a better chance in this case that we would run into the problem that the jurors know Mr. Hope or I," McCabe said.

Anderson suggested the attorneys discuss it and, if necessary, one of them should draw up a juror questionnaire.

"We can decide at the next pretrial (conference) when to send it out," he said.

In other court:

Lowell F. Kern Jr., 37, Belfield, pleaded guilty to Class B felony possession of stolen property.

The state recommended Kern serve 10 years with the North Dakota Department of Corrections with five years suspended. Kern would also be on probation for five years.

On Aug. 5, Kern was in possession of a stolen Ford F450 truck valued at more than $10,000, according to the criminal complaint.

Hope added that the Stark County Sheriff's Office was investigating the stolen truck when they found Kern in possession of it. Kern then led law enforcement on a chase in the truck.

Kern's case will be scheduled for a sentencing hearing and a pre-sentencing investigation.