Judge Precludes Famed Pathologist Cyril Wecht From Hopkins Trial

Judge Precludes Famed Pathologist Cyril Wecht From Hopkins Trial

Dr. Cyril Wecht (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic) / Licensed by the Beaver Countian

A Beaver County Judge granted a defense motion this week to exclude famed forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht from the homicide trial of Gregory Scott Hopkins. Wecht had been retained by the District Attorney’s Office to examine records in the case, and to subsequently testify as an expert witness about his findings.

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

Dr. Wecht’s report for the prosecution sought to answer two primary questions; How was the seminal fluid DNA, which is compatible with that of Gregory Hopkins, likely deposited onto the victim? — And — What is the likelihood of Mr. Hopkins’ seminal fluid having been deposited from previous sexual activities with the victim?

Wecht stated in his report that the location of the seminal fluids on the back of Walsh’s nightgown and white rope tied around her wrists “place him on the bed on top of the decedent’s back at/around the time of her demise.” Wecht continued that it was “extremely unlikely that his seminal fluid was deposited in those locations during the two or three previous sexual encounters the defendant admitted to have engaged in during the summer 3 weeks to a month prior to the victim’s death.”

Dr. Wecht’s report concluded that Walsh died due to strangulation during sexual activity hours before her parents discovered her body.

After defense attorneys for Gregory Hopkins received a copy of Wecht’s report from prosecutors in October, they filed a motion seeking to preclude his findings and expert testimony from trial.

Judge Harry E. Knafelc granted that motion this week, precluding Wecht’s analysis from being presented to jurors.

“The report does not set forth any scientific manner upon which Dr. Wecht bases his conclusion that the Defendant was on top of decedent’s back around the time of her demise” read the ruling by Judge Knafelc. “Furthermore, we conclude that Dr. Wecht’s statement that ‘it is extremely unlikely’ that the seminal fluid was placed in certain locations several weeks earlier, given the locations where the fluid was found, is too vague and imprecise to meet the standard for competent expert medical testimony in accordance with Pennsylvania law.”

Judge Knafelc also ruled that the questions Wecht sought to answer in his report do not “necessitate the use of scientific, technical, or specialized knowledge beyond that possessed by a layperson.”

Sources in the District Attorney’s Office tell the Beaver Countian that a decision has not yet been made as to whether they will appeal the ruling.

Gregory Scott Hopkins is scheduled to go on trial for the murder of Catherine Walsh on November 26th.

Editorial Note: The original version of this story reported that Gregory Scott Hopkins was charged with First Degree Murder, when in fact he has been charged with Criminal Homicide, an offense which can include First Degree Murder. The story has been corrected, and the Beaver Countian regrets the error.

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About The Author

John Paul

John Paul is a Beaver County native and the founder of the Beaver Countian. He reports full-time for the site, specializing in investigative journalism with an emphasis on public corruption.


  1. go blue

    How much did that cost??????

    Our DA office needs him???

    Save your time, simple they where banging she like to be tied up, sure his sperm had to be st scene he been cracking that for long time. No proof he should and will get off, no pund intended

  2. Me so horny

    This is why magistrates are tools. Knafelc? Really??!!! Any moron can become one, there are several cases in point in this coubty

  3. lmfao

    @me so horny(really)… Knafelc is common pleas judge, a difference from MJD, but use to be one, and you right anyone can be one if elected but still had to get certification to serve sad thing lawyers dint because of law degree. Most part this typically had local police chiefs which do fair solid, jobs or local elected officials mayor,supervisor ect that understand issues and the people in community, but sometimes some Get in over dirty politics or sleeping with right one or right place right time even if they are town drunk adulterer, closet gay… its the will of people regardless

  4. No Expert

    First of, Cyril is a lunatic. If you follow his history, he is just as corrupt as the rest of them. Cyril is the same man that looked at an autopsy done by another man and concluded that it was a valid autopsy done on an ALIEN!!! This man seeks recognition by claiming crazy ass things not by technology but by wanting fame. Wasted tax dollar money yet again!!!

  5. Disgusted

    First, how can anyone determine when the DNA was deposited? As everyone knows, when in the missionary position the seminal fluid leaks on to the sheets underneath the person! That could explain how it got on the back of her nightgown and on the sheets. And didn’t this guy have an alibi that night? Cyril Wecht is a crackpot and will do anything for money and get his noteriety. What happened to innocent until PROVEN guilty??????? It is up to a jury of his peers to decide not the press.

  6. Wtf

    Didn’t this guy also lie about that night more than once ! And hasn’t this guy hid facts for 33 years and pretend he is a great man of the community !

  7. Kc

    Prayers to the family of the victim for having to relive this terrible tragedy again & may they find peace during & after the trial

  8. No Expert

    JP… I hope as you report on stories, you do it with first hand knowledge. I am sure there is more to this story than just the sensationalism of throwing Cyril Wecht’s name out there. Remember there are 2 families involved in every case, the more I read the Beaver Countian the more I realize, it is no different than any other “paper”…sensationalism sells.

    1. John Paul
      John Paul

      The primary information in this article came from Judge Knafelc’s order, a public document that I obtained a copy of. The background came from prior court proceedings that I attended.

      Thanks for being a reader of the Beaver Countian.

      1. No Expert

        From what I read, it wasn’t a “rope” as keeps getting reported (again sensationalism). So all the facts are transparent. Again the judge ruled to block his testimony but with free speech it still makes its way into the potential jury pool.

      2. John Paul
        John Paul

        I’ve heard this testified to several different ways on the stand, and have seen the bindings characterized several different ways in various reports.

        Judge Knafelc’s order specifically refers to it as a “white rope” when referencing Dr. Wecht’s report, which is why I used that language in my reporting here. I did so not for sensationalism, but for accuracy. An excerpt:

        “Further, in response to the second question, Dr. Wecht notes that the Defendant’s DNA has only been identified on the back of the nightgown, on the white rope tied around the decedent’s wrists, and on the bed sheet.”

        The Order contains a footnote referencing Dr. Wecht’s report which reads as follows:

        “The report notes that the decedent’s arms were bound behind her back by the white rope tied around her wrists.”

        The order does characterize it further as a “white bathrobe rope” at one point, but not when quoting or directly referencing what is contained in Wecht’s report.

        As such, I believe my reporting to be accurate.

      3. Nice

        JP I really do appreciate the way you make yourself accountable for your reporting it’s one of the reasons why I trust this site.

  9. joepa

    Really… This magistrate is going to throw out Cyril’s analysis. He’s more qualified than the judge that threw it out.

  10. Kevin Blanarik

    Evidence is evidence and his opinion is his opinion. You can’t mix the two or there would be no reason for a trial. In this country we are innocent until PROVEN guilty.


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