Jury Convicts Sopyn of 2nd Degree Murder

By: Bill Whaley
8 April, 2017

“Actions speak louder than Words”…DDA Ron Olsen

Despite a weak case, due to a shoddy investigation by the Taos County Sheriff’s office, and despite the presence of an unreliable narrator, witness Gary Medina, a used car salesman from Vegas, despite the expert witnesses (ballistics, toxicologist, medical examiner, and scene reconstructionist), and despite the presence of two reputable and capable defense attorneys, John Day and Tom Clark, despite all this, Deputy District Attorney Ron Olsen in a simple and eloquent statement, a cliché really, summed up the state’s case against Mick Sopyn: “Actions speak louder than words.”

In his closing statement, Olsen eloquently summarized the evidence against Sopyn that pointed toward second-degree murder. He described how Sopyn walked into his bedroom, grabbed a shotgun, loaded it up with four shells. and racked up or slid the pump back to chamber a live round. Sopyn then carried the shotgun, thumb on the safety, finger on the trigger, alongside his hip, the barrel pointing up at an angle and opened the front door.

Amber Hava was knocking on the door when Mick opened the door. Apparently she went in and he shot her in the chest.

Sopyn and his attorneys (like Gary Medina initially) claimed it was an “accident.” Medina later changed his story multiple times. He also said Hava had cleaned up Mick’s trailer and cooked breakfast for Sopyn and Gary, the latter her companion of several  years. After Mick taunted her, asking if she would “crawl” for more cocaine, according to Medina, Amber slapped Sopyn and walked out the door, which was shut and locked behind her. Then Sopyn went and got his gun.

DDA Olsen repeated Sopyn’s statement made to the TCSO, “she fuckin’ beat the fuck out of me.” The 5’ 10“ Sopyn weighed 210 pounds and the 5”5” Hava, weighed 142 pounds. Apparently Sopyn couldn’t produce evidence of the beating on his body.

“An ordinary person doesn’t go get a gun,” said Olsen, “when somebody slaps them. Amber Hava, the only child of Niomi Hava walked into her death.”

Earlier during his summary of the case against Sopyn, Attorney John Day characterized the state’s case as “putting lipstick on a pig.” Later Day told this writer that he and Clark discussed the case with jurors, who told him they, the jurors respected the efforts Day and Clark made on behalf of their client but they didn’t believe a word the witnesses, like Gary Medina, said.

But they did believe Mick Sopyn shot Amber Hava. He admitted it and all the forensics evidence proved it.

This writer missed the first day, jury selection, and the third day of expert witness testimony. I wasn’t there to hear the jury’s verdict. But from opening statements through cross-examination both the defense and prosecution conducted themselves in an unusually civil manner. Deputy District Attorney Olsen cooperated with defense attorneys even as they tore holes big enough for a police unit to enter and exit his case.

But in the end the shotgun blast from the Mossberg 500 entered Amber Hava’s body and blew a gaping wound in her chest and the blast exited up and out her breast. The Deputy District Attorney, in an understated and eloquent manner made this “pig fly.”

The Taos Community and the Taos County Sheriff’s Office

In one of those ironies in which ‘custom” plays a role, the notion of “tolerance” in Taos County created the tragic circumstances for the pathos involving Amber Hava, and Mick Sopyn. Sure, drugs were at the center of conflict. Amber and her partner Gary Medina were “addicts” according to testimony. Apparently, too, Mr. Sopyn, a former award-winning body builder, got lost on the same road.

Retired town policeman Gabe Medina, a witness who lives adjacent to the Sopyn mobile home, described the aftermath of the tragic shooting. (Gabe’s daughter, too, was killed by a gun shot.) Gabe said that during traffic stops, Gary always mentioned his brother’s name, a brother who worked as a deputy for the Taos County Sheriff’s office.

Today Gary Medina, 47, lives, allegedly, with his mother and father, the latter a former Taos County politico in Nevada. By reputation Gary began selling drugs in high school. One of his sons, 13 at the time, committed “suicide” with a rifle  in front of adults, at Gary’s home more than ten years ago. Nobody was charged in that case.

I attended the burial and spent time listening to the mother of Gary’s children testify about Gary’s doings after the so-called suicide. When I asked Gary’s brother, the deputy, about the incident, he said, “I get so mad at my brother.”

According to Gary Medina’s El Prado neighbors, natives of the area, they repeatedly called the cops, due to traffic at Gary’s mobile home. But nothing was ever done to curtail the plague. Gary was allowed to leave the Sopyn-Hava murder scene on July 11, 2014, in his bloody clothes. He was not charged as an accessory. Though Amber’s moribund body was thoroughly tested and analyzed for toxic substances, neither Gary nor Mick were tested for drugs or alcohol.

Amber, Gary’s companion paid for her addiction with her life. Mick is paying for his drug problems with the loss of his liberty. The first deputy on the scene the night Mick shot Amber, deputy Rick Romero, has been indicted by a grand jury on other matters. Gary Medina is apparently selling used cars in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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