PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A former Beaver County councilman was sentenced to eight to 16 years in prison after being found guilty in a 1979 murder case.
In November, former Bridgewater councilman Gregory Scott Hopkins was convicted of third-degree murder in the 1979 strangling death of 23-year-old Catherine Walsh.
Two very different pictures of Hopkins were painted at his sentencing hearing on Wednesday.
A former colleague on the Bridgewater Borough Council, Dennis Bevington, testified that Hopkins once built accessible additions onto Bevington’s home for his disabled son at no cost.
But the victim’s family said they have been imprisoned by grief, longer than Hopkins will serve in state prison.
Francesco Caltieri, the victim’s brother gave an emotional victim impact statement.
“I have to say, this is the first time I can believe my sister is resting in peace. It’s finally done, he is going to jail. He’s going to find his punishment and God will take care of the rest,” Caltieri said. “If God asked me right now what I want done with him, I would say throw him in the fires of hell and let him be damned for all eternity. Period. When the sentence was read, in my head I said, ‘We got ‘em, Janet; it’s done.’”
Hopkins, at age 68, will serve eight to 16 years in prison for the strangulation murder of Catherine Janet Walsh in 1979.
A handkerchief was found around her neck where she lived in Monaca.
DNA recently tied it to Hopkins, but the defense argued DNA would have been their anyway because they had a relationship and also argued sexual misadventure played a role in her death.
But the jury in the trial presided over by Beaver County Judge Harry Knafelc found Hopkins guilty of third-degree murder.
Hopkins’ family left the courtroom and said nothing to reporters.
But the victim’s husband, Scott Walsh, who testified about their relationship beginning in high school and who was once looked at as a suspect, blamed Hopkins for not stepping up, and putting him through hell.
“I was elated,” says Walsh. “We finally got justice for her after 34 years. We finally got justice for her. He said he felt remorse. He didn’t feel remorse for anybody but himself. I just think he feels remorse for himself.”
The first patrolman on the scene on Sept. 1, 1979, Andy Gall, is now a detective for the district attorney.
“I never thought it would take this long to get my first case done,” he said. “But it’s done. I now have a 23-year-old daughter, and I look at her, and I think what if her life ended now. And it’s just not fair and so I’d want her to be remembered as just a sweet 23-year-old kid that she was.”
Defense attorneys though say they will appeal the conviction.
During the trial, Hopkins took the stand and admitted to a sexual relationship with Walsh. However, he said it must have been old semen, because he was not in the apartment the night of the murder.