Cherokee County Man Pleads Guilty To 2 Counts of First-Degree Murder


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COLUMBUS – (November 3, 2021) – A Cherokee County man has pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree premeditated murder for the deaths of two individuals in 2020, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said today.

Mark Hopkins II, 30, of Columbus, entered a guilty plea today in Cherokee County District Court. Senior Judge Robert Fleming accepted the plea on two counts of first-degree premeditated murder and set sentencing for December 27.

The crime occurred in June 2020, resulting in the deaths of Blaze Shank and Kylan Shook in Cherokee County. The case was investigated by the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.

Related charges against another defendant remains pending. Charges are merely accusations; defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case was prosecuted by Deputy Attorney General Vic Braden and Assistant Attorney General Shannon Rush of Schmidt’s office.

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Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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