Superior Court Overturns Local Judge – Allows Pathologist’s Testimony In Hopkins Case

superior-court

The Superior Court of Pennsylvania has overturned a ruling by a local judge, and will allow a famed pathologist to testify in a Beaver County homicide trial.

The appeals court ruled that Common Pleas Judge Harry Knafelc erred when he granted a defense motion to preclude Dr. Cyrl Wecht from testifying as an expert witness for the prosecution in their case against Gregory Scott Hopkins.

Gregory Hopkins, age 65 of 718 Mulberry Street Bridgewater, was charged in January of 2012 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.

Judge Knafelc issued an order last November precluding Dr. Wecht from testifying about his findings based on a review of evidence in the case against Hopkins. The Beaver County District Attorney’s Office appealed that decision, which led to Friday’s ruling from the Superior Court.

“Upon review, we conclude that Dr. Wecht’s report regarding the location of seminal fluid, its time of deposit, and the lack of DNA evidence of a third party meets Pennsylvania’s liberal standard for expert testimony,” wrote Senior Judge John L. Musmanno for the court. “Further, Dr. Wecht’s expert opinion is stated with the requisite degree of certainty. Accordingly, we conclude that the trial court abused its discretion in precluding Dr. Wecht’s expert report and testimony as to the location of seminal fluid and its time of deposit. We therefore reverse the trial court’s Order as to the preclusion of this evidence.”

The Superior Court upheld a part of Judge Knefelc’s decision to preclude testimony from Dr. Wecht as to his opinion that Catherine Walsh knew her assailant. “We cannot conclude that the trial court abused its discretion in precluding expert testimony from Dr. Wecht as to whether the victim knew her assailant,” wrote Senior Judge Musmanno.

A trial date has not yet been set, but courthouse sources tell the Beaver Countian that the case is likely to proceed before the end of this year.

 

7 comments

  1. More egg on your face fat Harry!! That’s twice now that higher courts overruled your misguided, erroneous judgements. We’re not talking about pissy, political summary cases at the magistrates office anymore. Both of those cases involved death and you let a guilty person go the first time. Thankfully that was reversed by the superior court and the defendant is in state prison. Keep this in mind voters when you vote these political pigeons into magistrate positions and higher.

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    • What the heck is going on here anyway? Someone will give evidence. Wecht is going to give evidence. This is not an internal inquiry and I don’t believe the paths have crossed, but they’ve double-crossed! :zipped:

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  2. HARRY KNAFELC GETS OFF ON GETTING PEOPLE OFF!!!!!!!!! :loser:

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    • Any Politician is aware about getting paid for multiple voting for those in big cities, been going on since Tammany Hall.

      The voter’s always say, “Never mind the applesauce. How do I get the bucks?” :smirk:

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  3. If the DNA has been there for over 30 years, how can ANYONE testify WHEN it was put there?????

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  4. Judge Harry. The Humpty Dumpty of Beaver County justice.

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    • Harry is a fine and considerate Judge, who worked hard to be elected by the people, he rules them as he sees them, and sometime can be overturned. The word Honorable is before his name and he has earned it and it should be respected, not just as a man but as a Judge, the Judge arrive every morning at 8AM and often leave at 8PM, they can make more as Lawyers, but serve the Public. :smile:

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