Judge Allows Man Charged With Homicide To Attend Wedding And Reception

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A Beaver County Judge has allowed a man awaiting trial on charges of Criminal Homicide to attend a wedding and wedding reception. Judge Harry Knafelc granted a motion by attorneys for Gregory Scott Hopkins to attend the services and party held last Saturday.

Gregory Hopkins, age 65 of 718 Mulberry Street Bridgewater, was charged in January of last year with Criminal Homicide in connection with the 1979 death of Catherine Walsh. Hopkins, who was interviewed shortly after the murder, claimed at the time he and Walsh had been in a consensual sexual relationship, but said it had ended over a month before her death. The investigation of the case stalled until advances in DNA analysis led to his arrest some 33 years later.

Although defendants charged with Criminal Homicide are usually not granted bond as a matter of law, Judge Knafelc agreed to put Hopkins on house arrest last December. The move followed a decision by prosecutors to appeal a decision by Knafelc to exclude famed pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht from testifying in the case. That appeal was expected to take up to a year, leading Judge Knafelc to grant a request by defense counsel to release Hopkins on bond.

As part of his bond, Judge Knafelc required Hopkins to remain confined to his residence in Bridgewater at all times, except for biweekly meetings with Adult Probation. Hopkins was placed on electronic monitoring to ensure compliance.

But on July 3rd, attorneys for Hopkins presented a motion before Judge Knafelc, asking that the homicide defendant be allowed to leave his home to attend his step-daughter’s wedding and reception. Knafelc approved the request, granting Hopkins three and a half hours at the Beaver Valley Golf Club. Hopkins was ordered not to consume alcohol at the reception, and was told to “be of good behavior.”

“We objected to him being allowed to attend [the wedding]. The judge ruled differently,” said Assistant District Attorney Frank Martocci, who is prosecuting the case.

Susan Niedergal, who was Catherine Walsh’s best friend, was less reserved in her reaction to Judge Knafelc’s ruling.

“I found out that he was allowed to attend this wedding, and it just bothers the heck out of me,” said Niedergal. “He’s also been allowed to walk around Beaver County, from his home in Bridgewater to the courthouse, because his doctor said he needed exercise. I know they say he is just a defendant, and that he is innocent until proven guilty — but I’m sorry, he’s on house arrest, he should be in his house … get a treadmill.”

Susan Niedergal has attended nearly every court hearing in the case since the charges were filed against Hopkins.

“This judge is just making up all of his own little rules for him, it just doesn’t seem right to me,” added Niedergal. “He’s been granted everything he’s wanted.”

 

45 comments

  1. This is irritating. If he didn’t have the connections that he had, if he was just a “regular person” like the rest of us, then you damn sure guarantee that his ass would be sitting in the BCJ. BUT…because he was a councilman in good standing for as long as he was, AND the fact that his step-daughter married a Beaver County Probation officer who is head of the Mental Health section of it, the judge had no problem accommodating his requests. It’s BULLSHIT.
    You are accused of taking a life. I don’t care if you work in a gas station or you are the Mayor of the town, your ass belongs behind bars, just like everyone else!

    • Actually, if you are accused of taking a life, your ass does not necessarily belong behind bars. Now, if you are convicted of taking a life, that’s another thing altogether.

      • Being accused and charged with criminal homicide is VASTLY different than say, being charged with armed robbery. If you are CHARGED with the crime of Criminal Homicide, YOUR ASS BELONGS BEHIND BARS. The flight risk ALONE is enough of a reason for there to be NO BOND on a criminal homicide charge. So, in closing, HIS ASS BELONGS BEHIND BARS.

      • hey nikki, your an idiot, if you are charged with murder, you DO NOT get a bond, unless your one of beaver counties elite. The Federal Government should be involved with this complete lack of abiding to laws of this country……

      • Sorry i meant MIKULIN, my apologies

    • Not the way it works Nikki. It’s as if you are saying everyone accused of murder is guilty. Really? Guess you haven’t seen all the cases in the past years where innocent people were accused and found not gulity. In our justice system there is no difference of being accused of murder or armed robbery. You are innocent until proved guilty and are eligible for bond. Yes, the amount of bond is determined by the seriousness of the crime and other factors like flight risk. But I think your statement is emotional. He was arrested, brought before a bond hearing and exercised his rights. If the bond was too lenient or small or he is getting special favors, that is different than the issue we are debating. Just saying….

      • My comment is in no way emotional. He was originally denied bond at his hearing because he was charged with criminal homicide. IF he DID NOT have the political connections he has, he would be sitting in the BCJ. Just like you or I. I’m not saying that everyone is guilty, not by a long shot. But, if you are charged with any kind of homicide charge, you need to be sitting in a cell. Flight risk, witness intimidation, are just a few of the reasons why they deny bond for criminal homicide.
        He is getting special favors. He had strings upon strings to pull. His new son in law is employed by the county, as an Adult Probation officer. Knafelc is a friend of his. So yeah, theres special favors abound. Just sayin’

    • Nikki, Would this be what the law says or your opinion? You always seem to talk like you saying something makes it true. Remember the “You need a license to practice law” and people that didn’t think so were stupid? As well if you can’t base it on law it is an unsubstanciated opinion. Dennis McKee

      • Oh Dennis, I REALLY have no desire to debate with you right now, as it is only Monday, and I really am not in the mood to hand you your ass yet again.
        Maybe later in the week, ok?

  2. Knafelc has to GO! This is not the first time he has been a asshole with a defendant. I surly hope the people of Beaver County remember this clown of a judge the next time he runs for this position. We DO NOT need a liberal judge letting possible murderers go anywhere but to JAIL! Wonder if he would feel this way if it was one of his family members that was murdered!

  3. Thats because Hopkins has money, and his attorney is friends with the Judge. Ross is also running for judge. They go back to when Knafelc was magistrate in ambridge, right up the road from Ross’s office. :smile:

    • It’s ALWAYS all about who you know…..

      • Could be. I know it sure helps. See some of your points in earlier response but again, i think you are too absolutist. Such as, “But, if you are charged with any kind of homicide charge, you need to be sitting in a cell.” Involuntary manslaughter is a homicide charge I think. And people regularly get bail for this as they should. Reading all these posts from Beaver County makes me think something sure stinks in that court/ law system. Just sayin sayin…

  4. Innocent until proven guilty. Live with it . I don’t believe this man can get a fair trial in this redneck county.

  5. And what if he is INNOCENT???? He was locked up for nearly a year and now is on house arrest. He has lost his business. If he is innocent…who will give him back his life? They had 33 years to collect evidence….if they had enough then there would have been a trial. Every person has the right to a speedy trial.

    • And what if he’s GUILTY???!!! DNA evidence does not lie.

      • A jury will decide that , until then he is innocent until proven guilty.Rednecks like yourself must not understand that concept. DNA present at the scene in itself does not mean guilt ,it’s presence must be connected to the crime. This man had a relationship with the victum which makes his DNA being found there quite likely. Your small mind cannot comprehend that just as your continual charges of racism on my part against white people are the creation of your limited imagination when issues are presented on a higher level than you can comprehend. Are you accusing me of being black by any chance?

      • Nope. Just a racist.

      • Yes, DNA sometimes does lie along with prosecutors presenting it. Not saying that is the case here, but please remember Duke LaCrosse.

  6. Society Is In Trouble

    Way to go ! Homicide suspects are to have no bond I believe ? House arrest then off to a wedding ? You are innocent until proven guilty, but maybe this guy can be on house arrest at your house, maybe you will get an invite to the wedding ! Another Beaver county fix !

  7. Come on now, he was endorsed by the Democratic Party so he must be a good judge. Vote first-think later!

  8. The District Attorney had the option of going to Trial without using Dr. Wecht and chose to appeal the Court’s decision prohibiting Dr. Wecht’s testimony. It is my understanding that the Court and Defendant were ready for Trial but as the District Attorney wanted to appeal the Trial was delayed indefinately. It seems appropriate to allow a 3 1/2 window for the Defendant to go to a step-daughter’s wedding under the circumstances.

  9. Janet (what we called her in school) doesn’t get to go to any of her relatives or friends weddings. Why should her murderer get too!

  10. That judge has to be loosing his mind. I bet that wouldn’t happen to an ordinary person. This guy just happened to be a councilman in Bridgewater. More craziness in the court system, AGAIN. As for the attorney, hey can’t hurt to ask…All that could be said is DENIED. :thumbsdown:

  11. a year and a half to wait for a trial, 30 years after the fact, there is no reason to stall any longer. IF they have a case, get on with it. D N A does not prove any thing. he’s admitted to having a sexual relationship. i was going to bring up the zimmerman case, but i won’t.

    • One, by stating that you were going to bring up the Zimmerman case, but you won’t, YOU BROUGHT UP THE ZIMMERMAN CASE, which, btw has no place here.
      Two, they claim to have DNA, but even with DNA, it’s not an open-and-shut case. Yes, he had admitted to having a sexual relationship with her, BUT (and that is a big but), he also claims that the relationship ended approximately a month before her death. I may not be completely sure, but I think what the prosecution is trying to show is IF the relationship ended about a month prior, then how did the DNA found end up where it was? But, then again, that is my observation with what details that they have released to the media.

  12. Just as in the Zimmerman case this mob wants a lynching not a fair trial. This case is just a vehicle for some to use to further their own agendas , others don’t have the capacity to think for themselves..

  13. @ Nikki, sounds like you have a personal vendetta against the new son-in-law or former client maybe? Get over it. This case was ready for trial last November and would have been over if that idiot DA hadn’t filed an appeal. Seems to me they don’t have the evidence and are stalling so they don’ t have to face Mr. Ross. I smell a big law suit coming after this over!

    • I have no personal vendetta against anyone involved in this. It just sickens me that someone accused and charged with taking a life is allowed to partake in things that would not be allowed for the general public, ALL BECAUSE OF WHO HE KNOWS.

  14. @Nikki..funny you mention that as stated before he is not charged with murder. We see plenty of people charged with “murder” crimes walking the streets. The judge made a decision based on the evidence presented in court and the whole due process as Benyo mentions above. The media, including JP, gives you a bias side to the story. If you want to know the facts then sit in court during proceedings then make your own educated remarks. So quick to “judge” people on the medias spin on things…shame on us all!

  15. mr. whitfield, when talking politics, (court system) you need a sense of humor. i am not going to bring up the …….

  16. Hey who da p.o. ???????

    • The APO’s name is Joe Chesnutt. AND the ONLY reason that I even bothered to name him is that he and his wife to be had submitted their engagement photos to the BCT, there by making him a public figure.

  17. Only the FACTS

    @Nikki P. If you got that off the BCT maybe you could spell his name correctly. Also, by putting their engagement announcement in the paper does not make them public figures that would mean they were elected.

  18. Nikki that logic is stupid. So by JP posting mugshot Wednesday photos does that make them public figures?! My guess is you would be a public figure then?!

  19. As I said before, you must have been on his caseload before. Especially since you CLAIM he is the head of the mental health unit!!!!! :smile:

    • I never denied nor confirmed it. Wasn’t asked, and even if I was, it doesn’t mean anything. could be a friend of mine who was, or an ex, or a family member. Not really your buisness.

  20. Not your business to put someone’s name in print when it didn’t have anything to do with it. If you are so interested in the case, do your own research and not with what is in the media, which is biased. There is a law that requires a speedy trial, which wasn’t done, therefore bail was given.

  21. Only the FACTS

    So Nikki under your logic, the name of the PO is none of your business and it is especially not your place to put his name out there. There was a reason that he wasn’t named, nor the wife, but you felt the need to put his name out there….makes me think you have a bone to pick with him.

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