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Murder trial of Ryan Welch scheduled to begin June 10

  • CAROL LOLLIS<br/>Ryan D. Welch
  • A portrait of Jessica Pripstein is seen at a vigil at First Churches in Northampton last year.<br/><br/>GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Welch, 37, is charged in connection with the February 2012 death of his girlfriend, Jessica Ann Pripstein, 39.

On Tuesday, Welch and his attorney, Paul Rudof of the Committee for Public Counsel Services, asked Hampshire Superior Court Judge Bertha Josephson to consider a motion delaying the start of the trial.

Rudof said Welch has had limited access to the computer at the Hampshire Jail and House of Correction, where he is being held.

That lack of access has prevented Welch from reviewing the 40 to 50 computer discs containing evidence in the case, which is in addition to another 7,000 pages of evidence.

Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Jeremy Bucci, who is prosecuting the case, said the discs contain photographs that can be printed for Welch’s review, videos he has already seen and results of a forensic examination of Pripstein’s computer, which Bucci called “fruitless.”

Rudof said Welch has a limited amount of space in which he’s allowed to keep papers, and that space is already used up.

Rudof said he’s also seeking additional DNA testing to be performed on a knife found on Pripstein’s body.

Josephson said she was not going to entertain the defense’s motion without supporting affidavits. In light of that decision, Josephson set a tentative date of June 10 to begin jury selection.

Josephson chose that date to keep the case within the schedule that had already been set and to try to accommodate witnesses for both sides.

Police said they discovered Welch in Pripstein’s apartment on Ward Avenue in Easthampton Feb. 20, 2012, about two minutes after a frantic 911 call — during which she screamed for help and said her boyfriend was trying to kill her — was cut off.

Pripstein’s body was found lying in a pool of blood, police said. The district attorney’s office said she died from a sharp-force trauma to her neck.

Welch was found barely conscious and bleeding from a self-inflicted wound to his throat in another room of the apartment, police said.

Welch told police he entered the apartment, found Pripstein’s body and was so distraught the he attempted to take his own life by slitting his throat.

The trial is expected to last about three weeks.

Bob Dunn can be reached at bdunn@gazettenet.com.

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