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Cybergenetics, April 6, 2020:Pennsylvania Superior Court grants Scott Hopkins new trial in 1979 slaying of Janet Walsh

Today, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania granted inmate Scott Hopkins a new trial. On November 22, 2013, a Beaver County jury had convicted Hopkins of third-degree murder in the 1979 slaying of Janet Walsh. But the appellate court has now ruled that the prosecution's "topographical distribution" theory of old semen stains "shall not be admissible" at the new trial.

On September 1, 1979, Walsh's body was discovered in her Monaca, PA apartment. There was no sign of recent sexual activity, nor of any semen deposits, according to the investigating officers, autopsy pathologist, and State Police criminalist at the time. Hopkins told the police that he had a relationship with Walsh, having visited her weeks before the murder.

In 2010, a State Police serologist searched for semen stains on items from the crime scene. The state crime lab analyzed the stains she found, comparing them with Hopkins' DNA. They found his DNA on the back of Walsh's nightshirt, the bathrobe tie that bound her hands, and on a bed sheet. Hopkins was charged with the murder.

On September 27, 2012, noted forensic pathology Dr. Cyril Wecht prepared an expert report for the prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Frank Martocci. Dr. Wecht considered the co-location of Hopkins DNA on "the back of Walsh's nightgown and on the soft white rope tied around the decedent's wrists (her arms were bound behind her back)."

Dr. Wecht opined that the "seminal fluid DNA, in these locations, placed [Hopkins] on the bed on top of the decedent's back at/around the time of her demise." He further opined that "it is extremely unlikely that [Hopkins'] seminal fluid was deposited in those locations during the two or three previous sexual encounters … 3 weeks to a month prior to the victim's death." more

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