NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) - Prosecutors described a troubled relationship during opening arguments in the murder trial of Cara Rintala ; a western Massachusetts woman accused of killing her wife.
Annamarie Cochran Rintala was found dead inside the basement of the couple's Granby home back in 2010. Her cause of death was determined to be strangulation with multiple blunt-force injuries.
In Hampshire Superior Court in Northampton on Wednesday, First Assistant District Attorney Steven Gagne said that in the couple's two-and-a-half-year marriage, they had accumulated large amounts of debt, with $95,000 in credit card and auto loan debt. There were two divorce filings for the couple, and they had separated once.
Gagne talked about multiple 911 calls and restraining orders, and cited surveillance footage from the night of the murder showing Cara Rintala throwing away bloody rags. When questioned by police the night of Annamarie's death, Cara allegedly told police "I know I'm the number-one suspect."
She repeatedly shook her head in the courtroom as Gagne outlined the prosecution's case.
Rintala's attorney, David Hoose, characterized his client and the marriage in a very different way. In his opening statement, Hoose said that Rintala is a responsible person who was deeply in love with her wife.
He said that Annamarie was charming, but deeply irresponsible and deceitful, adding that the couple spent their money separately and that Cara Rintala had always paid her bills on time. He pointed to a credit card account that Annamarie had opened with a close male friend of hers, who was already married to someone else.
Hoose likened the prosecution's case to a "house of cards," and questioned how Cara Rintala would have been able to hold down Annamarie, who weighed nearly 200 pounds, without becoming injured herself.
He said that he does not know who really killed Annamarie Cochran Rintala, but that as the defense attorney, it's not his job to know.
"Don't be like the Commonwealth. Don't throw up your hands and say 'we don't know, Cara was there, she must have done it!'" Hoose told jurors.
The couple, which was raising a child together, both worked in public safety. Cochrane Rintala worked as a paramedic, while Cara Rintala was a firefighter. The case has received attention well beyond western Massachusetts, as it is among the first murder cases to involve a legally married same-sex couple.