2021 Swamp Car Wash murder case defendant changes plea again
What was scheduled to be a sentencing at the Alachua County Stephan P. Mickle Criminal Courthouse Tuesday changed course after Eugene Javon Patrick changed his plea for the second time.
Patrick was accused of murdering Bobby Bernard Hopkins in May 2021 at Swamp Car Wash in east Gainesville. He pleaded not guilty to a second-degree murder charge on June 30 of that year.
On April 13, Patrick accepted a guilty plea deal from the state, which lowered the charge to manslaughter. Then, Tuesday morning, Patrick changed his plea again — back to not guilty — opting to move the murder case forward to trial.
Under the former plea deal, Patrick was facing up to 15 years in prison. Now, if he is found guilty at trial, the minimum sentence is 25 years.
Judge James M. Colaw asked Patrick, “You're looking at life, the rest of your natural life in prison as a maximum possible sentence. Do you understand that?” Patrick nodded, and Colaw accepted the change of plea.
Prosecutor Ryan Nagel made clear to Patrick that he will not be able to change his plea a third time.
“There will be no offers from the state. We will go to trial and I will not be engaging in any last-minute reconsiderations,” Nagel said.
Jury selection is scheduled for the week of May 15.