BELLEVILLE, Ill. – One year after being sentenced in federal court for the murder of an Illinois State Trooper, an East St. Louis man appeared in St. Clair County Court on Wednesday to be sentenced in the killing.

Christopher Grant, 49, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for the death of Trooper Nicholas Hopkins, and was sentenced to 37 years in state prison. This term will be added to his federal sentence, meaning Grant will effectively remain incarcerated for the rest of his life.

Illinois State Trooper Nicholas Hopkins

Trooper Hopkins was with other state troopers attempting to serve a search warrant at a residence in the 1400 block of N. 42nd Street and Caseyville Avenue just before 5:30 a.m. on Aug. 23, 2019. An ISP investigation revealed that Grant had been selling marijuana and crack cocaine from the home. Members of the ISP SWAT Team were called to assist with the execution of that warrant.

According to prosecutors, Hopkins assisted two SWAT members with attaching chains connected to a police vehicle onto bars protecting the front door of the residence. Law enforcement was attempting to remove the bars in order to enter the home.

Hopkins had just finished connecting the chains to the bars and turned to walk off the front porch when he was shot. Officers and SWAT members returned fire and eventually took several people into custody at the home.

Meanwhile, Hopkins was rushed to St. Louis University Hospital, where doctors attempted to save his life. He was pronounced dead at 6:10 p.m. He was 33.

When law enforcement searched the home, they recovered an AR-15 rifle, an AK-47 rifle, and five handguns. Grant’s DNA was found on the pistol used to kill Trooper Hopkins.

federal grand jury later indicted Grant for Hopkins’ murder.

Grant was also charged with distribution of crack cocaine, maintaining a drug house, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, use of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, use of a firearm to commit murder in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and possession of a firearm by a felon. 

Christopher Grant

In July 2021, federal prosecutors agreed to drop the drug possession and use of firearm charges after Grant pleaded guilty to murder. As part of the plea deal, Grant admitted to blindly firing a 9mm handgun three times toward whoever was on the front porch.

On Nov. 9, 2021, a federal judge sentenced Grant to 480 months in prison, and required he serves at least 34 years.

With the federal and state sentences running concurrently, Grant would not be eligible for parole until he’s 82.