Popejoy, 64, is charged with first-degree premeditated murder of his 59-year-old, next-door neighbor in Crockery Township. He is also charged with using a firearm in the commitment of a felony.
Friday was the fourth day of the trial in Ottawa County Circuit Court that is expected to extend into next week.
Popejoy confessed to seeing Bonge outside on the morning of Dec. 26, 2017. In a “spur of a moment” act, he said he grabbed a loaded revolver, walked outside and shot her in the back of the head.
“I take full responsibility,” he said in the written confession he gave Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office detectives Ann Koster and Michael Tamminga in the early morning hours of Dec. 29.
After Popejoy walked detectives through the events of the morning of the shooting, he was arrested and taken to the Ottawa County Jail. Detectives asked him back for more questioning later that morning and he complied.
During initial questioning following his confession, Popejoy said that he thinks he was getting a drink of water when he saw Bonge outside with the snowblower. He said there was no time delay when he went to get his revolver out of a drawer in his bedroom. He walked through pine trees and down the easement behind Bonge and shot her.
Popejoy said that she never turned around and he believes she never saw him. She immediately fell to the ground.
That’s when he turned off her snow blower and took it down behind her house on the same path that she had blown off earlier. Popejoy admitted that he did not know where she normally kept the snowblower.
Popejoy said he retrieved his sled out of the garage, went back to Bonge and put her body on the sled. He took her back down the easement, down his driveway and pushed the sled down the hill behind his house.
In response to questions, he denied that his girlfriend, Rhonda Clark, helped him in any way. But he said that he let Clark know that he had taken “care of the problem,” and that Clark knew Bonge was missing at that point.
Later that night, Popejoy said he took his gun apart, and then drove to the Grand River and threw the pieces into the river off the 68th Avenue bridge. Koster testified that police eventually did a dive and searched the area, but did not find the gun.
In later questioning, Popejoy admitted that Clark knew about the situation.
When he talked to her on the phone later, while both were in the presence of detectives, he told her, “I already admitted my deed.”
Clark responded, “OK.”
Popejoy told her that she doesn’t need to cover for him.
“I love you,” he said. “I’m sorry I put you in this situation.”
Popejoy is then asked by the detective why he did it. He said he was trying to help the neighborhood.
The trial is expected to continue Monday morning with the last of the five Popejoy interviews before being turned over to the defense for possible witnesses.
Defense attorney Jeffrey Kortes would not say whether or not his client would take the stand.