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Twenty-four-year old Charles “Trip” Bopp, III, of Remington was fatally shot April 22, 2021. He was a dedicated dairy farmer. 

Wednesday, Sept. 28 

As the jury left the room, Charlie and Sue Bopp embraced, overcome by a flood of emotion. Their son was murdered a year and a half ago. In the Leesburg courtroom, a jury had just convicted two of the men responsible for their son’s tragic death. The same jury was scheduled to sentence José Pereira and Darren Davis later Wednesday afternoon. At the least, their prison terms will be measured in decades.  

Pereira and Davis were each convicted of first-degree murder, armed burglary and conspiracy to commit burglary. The jury, comprised of 12 Loudoun County residents, deliberated for about three hours Tuesday afternoon and two hours on Wednesday morning before reaching a unanimous verdict. 

The murder charge alone carries a minimum sentence of 20 years in prison, with a maximum of life. The men’s extensive criminal histories will also be a factor as the jury considers appropriate punishments. 

Whatever the sentence, it will likely be little consolation for Bopp’s family, along with the dozens of friends and acquaintances from the southern Fauquier County farming community who made the trip to Leesburg during the trial to show their support. The murder was also devastating to the very agency tasked with investigating it; Bopp’s father was until 2020 a high-ranking Fauquier County sheriff’s deputy.  

During the trial, Pereira acknowledged from the witness stand that he was at the murder scene. But Martin Martinez, he claimed, had tricked him into being there and threatened him to stay quiet after the fact.  

In his own testimony, Martinez said that Pereira was an active and willing participant in the botched burglary that led to Bopp’s murder, kicking down the door and, with Davis, ransacking Bopp’s house.  

The jury believed Martinez — along with a litany of circumstantial evidence that prosecutors argued showed Pereira’s complicity.  

According to Martinez, Davis was an early participant in the botched plot to steal a safe full of money from someone who lived near Bopp. And, Martinez testified, Davis was the one who pulled out a gun with Bopp interrupted the burglary, shooting Bopp three times “for no reason.”  

Davis didn’t take the stand during the trial, but his attorney argued that he wasn’t involved in the burglary-turned-homicide at all, despite the fact cell tower data placed Davis’ phone at the scene when the murder took place.  

Martinez opted not to take his chances with the jury, pleading guilty before the trial began to first degree murder and other connected charges. Jury Guerra, who initiated the burglary plot that led to Bopp’s murder, also pleaded guilty to first degree murder and other charges before the start of the trial. Facing a maximum sentence of life in prison, they will both be sentenced by a judge in January. 

Tuesday, Sept. 27 

After listening to four days of witness testimony and arguments from the prosecuting and defense attorneys in the trial of “Trip” Bopp’s murder, the only thing left for the jury to do is deliver a verdict. 

After closing arguments Tuesday, Sept. 27, the 12 Loudoun County residents who make up the panel were still deliberating as of late Tuesday afternoon. If they convict Darren Davis and José Pereira of first-degree murder in the burglary turned homicide, the two defendants could spend the rest of their lives in prison. 

Defense attorneys Eric Shamis (representing Pereira) and Mark Williams (representing Davis) used their closing arguments to cast doubt on the reliability of Martin Martinez’ testimony, which implicated both Pereira and Davis in the burglary plot that led to Bopp’s death. Without Martinez (who has already pleaded guilty), they argued, prosecutors have only flimsy circumstantial evidence tying their clients to the burglary.  

Fauquier County Senior Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Abigail Romero countered that there is a “mountain of evidence” suggesting that both Pereira and Davis were involved in the burglary.  

Martinez wasn’t a perfect witness, she acknowledged. But neither was Pereira, who testified that Martinez tricked him into coming to the farm where Bopp lived. “Both of these men come with baggage,” she told the jury. “They’re both convicted felons.”  

But compared to Pereira, Martinez had much less to gain by lying, Romero argued. Martinez has already pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, she pointed out, and since there was no plea deal in exchange for his testimony, he still faces up to life in prison. Besides, she said, Martinez’ testimony implicated himself as one of the primary actors in Bopp’s death.  

Romero acknowledged that Martinez’ testimony didn’t fill in all the gaps in the evidence — gaps which, Romero argued, are normal for any investigation. But in general, Martinez’ account served to confirm what the “mountain of evidence” already indicated: that Pereira and Davis both participated in the crime.  

Shamis showed the jury a photograph to discredit Martinez’ testimony that he, Pereira and Davis exited Bopp’s house through the window. A photo of the crime scene depicted a window in Bopp’s house cracked open a few inches.“If [Martinez] had been telling the truth, that window would be open,” Shamis told the jury. 

Pereira or Davis could have closed the window, and Martinez didn’t notice in the frenzy to escape the scene, Romero suggested. Martinez, she said, didn’t “try to explain away every detail.” That suggests he was telling the truth, she added. Pereira, on the other hand, “has an answer for every detail,” she continued. “That’s what happens when you get to craft your story.”  

Williams pointed to recorded phone calls and text messages Martinez has sent from jail recently, indicating his frustration with not receiving a plea deal and suggesting that he may lie on the stand to spite prosecutors. By implicating Davis as the triggerman and Pereira as a willing participant, Martinez’ testimony last week was a desperate attempt ahead of his sentencing to lessen his own culpability in the murder, Williams argued. A “rat,” Williams said, will do “anything they can to get out of the cage.” 

Parties agree on evidence, differ on interpretation 

Besides the competing testimonies of Martinez and Pereira, all parties generally agree on the validity of the digital and physical evidence presented at trial. Pereira was at the farm when Bopp was killed; so was his SUV. Pereira bought work gloves and masks a half hour before the murder.  

Davis’ phone was at the farm, too; the phone also called Pereira’s phone before and after the murder. The three men changed their phone numbers that night and exchanged news articles about the murder the next day. All the defendants — Guerra included — had multiple phones, including “burner phones.”  

The jury must now decide whether those facts fit best with Martinez’ or Pereira’s testimony.  

Pereira, for instance, said that Martinez was using Davis’ phone that day, which explains why Davis’ phone was tracked to the scene. He said Davis had nothing to do with the burglary-turned-homicide. 

Martinez testified that Davis was using the phone. (Calling into question Pereira’s testimony, Romero pointed out that text message records show that Martinez was using his own phone at the same time Pereira said he was also using Davis’ phone.) 

Williams pointed to the lack of evidence tying Davis himself — not just his phone — to the crime scene. “There’s a lot of forensic evidence in this case, and none of it connects to Darren Davis,” he told the jury.  

“Nobody should be convicted on Martin Martinez’ testimony,” Williams continued. “If you are thinking about putting someone in prison for the rest of their life, you better be sure.”  

For his part, Pereira admitted that he was at the farm and witnessed the murder. But he said he was there under duress; Martinez and another individual — whose identity Pereira didn’t know — had tricked him into riding with them to the burglary and threatened him to stay quiet. Pereira thought that he was riding along to a drug deal, not an armed burglary, he told the jury.  

Shamis acknowledged that Pereira’s decision to ride along “was probably a stupid idea.” But, Shamis told the jury, “The fact that [Pereira] was there does not make him guilty;” 

Martinez said that Pereira purchased the work gloves at a Bealeton convenience store for use in the burglary, in which Pereira was a willing participant.  

Pereira testified that, at the time of the purchase, he had no idea that a burglary was in the works and that he bought the gloves to wear at the gym while weightlifting — just like he always does.  

“Mr. Bopp was killed — murdered in cold blood,” Shamis emphasized to the jury. “The question you all have to decide is: Is Mr. Pereira responsible for that death?” 

Monday, Sept. 26

The jury has now heard all the evidence it will hear in the Trip Bopp murder trial. Both prosecutors and defense attorneys rested their cases Monday, Sept. 26, and will deliver their closing arguments Tuesday morning. 

Defendant José Pereira took the witness stand on the fourth day of witness testimony, testifying that Martin Martinez tricked Pereira into traveling to the scene of the burglary-turned-homicide, and it was Martinez who killed Trip Bopp. Pereira claimed that fellow defendant Darren Davis was not involved at all. He also introduced an entirely new suspect into the sequence of events. It was the first time Pereira has shared his version of events in a courtroom. 

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(From top left) Darren Nathaniel Davis, 37; Jury Beatrice Guerra, 30; Martin Anuar Martinez, 31; and José Vidal Pereira, 33

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(1) comment

truepat

Excellent job by the Prosecutors and LE......

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