Micola “Mick” Sopyn, a former bodybuilder once named Mr. New Mexico, was found guilty of second-degree murder and use of a firearm by a jury in Eighth Judicial District Court in Taos Friday (April 7) in the shooting death of 38-year-old Amber Hava.
The 12-member jury found Sopyn not guilty of tampering with evidence.
Sopyn faces up to 15 years in prison and $12,500 in fines on the second-degree murder charge, plus an additional year for the use of a firearm.
It took the jury approximately three hours to return with the verdict in the fifth day of the trial.
The charges are the result of a July 2014 incident, during which Taos County sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to Sopyn’s Doña Ana Drive home in Taos, where they found Hava on her back outside the residence with an open wound on the left side of her chest. Hava was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Taos News archives.
Sopyn, who did not testify during the trial, said during the investigation he accidentally shot Hava with a Mossberg 500 12-gauge shotgun after an argument over drug money.
Sopyn said Hava was visiting his residence along with Gary Medina.
Sopyn claimed he retrieved the shotgun from his bedroom, loaded the weapon “and was planning on shooting a couple rounds into the air to scare them so they would leave.”
Sopyn alleged his finger was on the trigger and the shotgun discharged into Hava as she was reaching for the weapon, according to a sheriff’s deputy in a 2014 written statement.
A grand jury indicted Sopyn in September 2014 on charges of second-degree murder and tampering with evidence, both felonies, following a three-month investigation.
The trial began April 3.
Medina was a key witness for the state. Yet Medina’s inconsistent statements throughout the 2014 investigation was fodder for the defense, who called Medina a “sweaty, fidgety junkie.” To base any conviction decision on Medina’s statements “would be a travesty,” the defense argued. Sopyn’s lawyers implored the jury to not let the state get away with what they called a “shoddy” investigation.
John Day, one of Sopyn’s attorneys, told The Taos News April 10 that they “respect the jury’s work and decision,” but are “looking at all the options” for an appeal.
A sentencing hearing for Sopyn has not been set.