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Rintala must stay in prison pending appeal to SJC

  • Cara Lee Rintala during her murder trial in Northampton on Jan. 22, 2014. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING



Staff Writer
Monday, February 08, 2021

NORTHAMPTON — A Granby woman convicted of killing her wife in the couple’s home 11 years ago must remain in prison until the state’s highest court hears her appeal, Hampshire Superior Court Judge Richard J. Carey ruled Tuesday.

Cara Lee Rintala, 53, was convicted of first-degree murder in 2016 at her third trial in the March 29, 2010, strangulation and beating death of her wife, Annamarie Cochrane Rintala, in the basement of their Granby home. The first two trials ended in hung juries. Rintala was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Rintala had previously sought a new trial, which was denied in December 2019. She earlier sought to have her first-degree murder verdict reduced to voluntary manslaughter or second-degree murder, which a judge also denied in December 2016.

Most recently, Rintala was seeking a release from prison pending a Supreme Judicial Court decision on her appeal. As part of her request for release, Rintala is challenging expert testimony presented by the commonwealth’s paint expert at her trial. Annamarie Cochrane Rintala’s body was found doused in paint and prosecutors argued that Cara Rintala used the paint to conceal the crime and contaminate the scene.

In his five-page decision, Carey ruled that Rintala’s arguments are “wanting and without any weight” and that she poses “some minimal flight risk.”

Rintala also cited the risk of contracting COVID-19 in prison. Carey’s decision acknowledges that the SJC has cautioned against using evidence of a lack of positive tests at facilities against defendants seeking release from custody, but stated that “circumstances on the ground have changed.”

“The vaccination of prisoners in Massachusetts has begun, and is ongoing on a daily basis,” Carey wrote. “… the specific risk to this defendant, in view of her age and medical conditions, is minimal.”

Rintala’s lawyer, Chauncey Wood, declined to comment Wednesday. The SJC is expected to hear her appeal in April.

“We are pleased the Court denied the defendant’s request to be released from prison pending her appeal, and we look forward to her conviction being affirmed,” Northwestern First Assistant District Attorney Steven Gagne said in a statement.