SJC upholds murder conviction of Ryan Welch in killing of Jessica Pripstein

  • Ryan D. Welch during his arraignment in 2012. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 5/15/2021 9:13:59 AM

EASTHAMPTON — The state’s highest court has ruled to uphold the first-degree murder conviction of an Easthampton man who killed his girlfriend in 2012.

The Supreme Judicial Court, or SJC, on Friday denied the request of Ryan Welch — convicted in 2014 of the murder of Jessica Ann Pripstein in the couple’s Easthampton apartment — for a new trial. The court upheld several rulings by Hampshire Superior Court judges C. Jeffrey Kinder and Daniel Ford. Welch had been sentenced to life in prison without parole.

“This preserves the justice given to Jessica Pripstein and her family when the jury issued its guilty verdict in October of 2014,” Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan said in a statement. The trial attorneys on the case were Assistant District Attorney Jeremy Bucci and former assistant district attorney Steven Greenbaum.

Welch’s appeal was argued before the SJC on Feb. 5 by his defense attorney Alan J. Black and Northwestern Assistant District Attorney Von Flatern.

Welch murdered Pripstein on the night of Feb. 20, 2012. Pripstein, who was 39, made a brief and frantic emergency phone call to police, saying that her boyfriend was trying to kill her. The SJC ruling recouts how responding Easthampton police officers found Pripstein dead on the bathroom floor of her apartment with her throat cut, and Welch on a bedroom floor with his throat cut, but alive.

Welch’s appeal centered on the argument that the judge who heard his motion to suppress erred when he did not suppress statements Welch made while hospitalized. Welch also argued that his trial judge erred in admitting as evidence text messages he sent during a work dispute and “prior bad acts.”

But the SJC overruled those arguments.

“We have reviewed the entire record of this case pursuant to our responsibilities under G. L. c. 278, § 33E,” the court’s ruling reads. “We conclude that there is no basis for reducing the defendant’s sentence on the murder conviction or ordering a new trial.”

After Welch’s conviction in 2014, family members speaking to the Gazette remembered Pripstein as a proud, beautiful woman with many friends in western Massachusetts — the Pennsylvania native’s adopted home. Her mother, Rochelle Pripstein, said the family had always tried to lure her daughter back to Pennsylvania, but that she moved Northampton and the community she had built here.

In a statement through the DA’s office, Easthampton Police Chief Robert Alberti said the entire police department worked on the case and that officers’ “tireless efforts resulted in a conviction that stood the test of time.”

“Nine years later, it is still a tragedy, but finally the Pripstein family can get some closure,” he said.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.


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