NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – After hearing from the prosecuting and defense lawyers, a Northampton Superior Court judge has sentenced Cara Rintala to prison for manslaughter of her wife, Annamarie Cochrane-Rintala.
Hampshire Superior Court Judge Francis Flannery has made the decision to sentence Rintala to no less than 12 years or no more than 14 years in prison. Rintala does get credit for the seven and a half years that she has already served in confinement. Judge Flannery called the killing “especially brutal.”
“There’s no legal remedy that will make you whole again,” said Judge Flannery to Annamarie’s family.
Hear Hampshire Superior Court Judge Francis Flannery’s decision in the sentencing:
Victim impact statements were read aloud from Annamarie’s family members during Thursday’s sentencing, all pushing for the maximum sentence. However, Kara and Annmarie’s adopted daughter, now 16-year-old Brianna, gave her own impact statement pleading for her mother’s immediate release.
“I cannot live without my mom and I need her. Having my mom back home means the worlds to me and I’m asking you to release my mom right away and let her live with me for good,” said Brianna.
Northwestern District Attorney’s Office discusses the Cara Rintala trial
“You can’t deny this was a circumstantial case, there was no witness to this case there was no confession, there was no video, there was no silver bullet of DNA or fingerprints that conclusively determined that Cara Rintala had done this. So that made it a difficult case from square one,” said Gagne.
Over the last 13 years of her four trials, Rintala has maintained her innocence throughout the entirety of this process.
On October 5th, a jury found Rintala guilty of voluntary manslaughter in connection with the death of her wife, Annamarie Cochrane-Rintala. Rintala’s bail was revoked and she was escorted out of the courtroom in handcuffs.
Voluntary manslaughter is a lesser-included offense of first-degree murder. The difference between the two is that first-degree murder requires a specific intent to kill with deliberate premeditation or extreme cruelty. Voluntary manslaughter is when a murder is unplanned and typically takes place in a heat of passion or during sudden combat.
This was Rintala’s fourth trial for this murder. Her first two trials were ruled mistrials after the juries were unable to reach a unanimous verdict. She was then convicted in a third trial back in 2016, after the jury deliberated for four days. However, that ruling was overturned on appeal by the State’s Supreme Court, which ruled that one witness who testified about the process of paint drying was not a qualified expert.
Cochrane-Rintala’s body was found unresponsive at the bottom of the stairs of the couple’s Granby home on March 29, 2010. When first responders arrived, it was determined that Annamarie was dead. Cara, Annamarie’s body and the floor near the bottom of the stairs were all found to be covered in paint. It was determined by the medical examiner Cochrane-Rintala died from strangulation roughly six to eight hours before her body was discovered.
In this fourth trial, the jury took two and a half days to deliberate after they had to restart following three jury members being dismissed.
Cara Rintala’s fourth trial timeline over the last 13 years
- March 29, 2010 – Annamarie Cochrane Rintala found strangled to death in the basement of their Granby home.
- Oct. 19, 2011 – Hampshire County Grand Jury indicts Cara Rintala on first degree murder charge in connection with Annamarie’s death.
- Oct. 20, 2011 – Cara Rintala arraigned in Hampshire Superior Court, ordered held without bail.
- March 13, 2013 – Hampshire Superior Court’s first trial ends in a mistrial when jury unable to reach a verdict; Rintala remains held without bail.
- Feb. 4, 2014 – Hampshire Superior Court’s second trial ends with jury unable to reach verdict; Rintala later released on $150,000 cash bail with GPS monitoring.
- Jan. 14, 2016 – Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court denies Rintala’s petition to prevent a third trial, ruling the Commonwealth’s evidence is sufficient to convict.
- Oct. 7, 2016 – Hampshire Superior Court’s third trial ends with jury convicting Rintala of first degree murder; Rintala sentenced the following week to life in state prison without the possibility of parole.
- Sept. 27, 2021 – Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court vacates conviction, ruling that a witness who testified about the process of paint drying was not a qualified expert.
- Nov. 23, 2021 – Rintala released on $50,000.00 cash bail with GPS monitoring.
- Aug. 23, 2023 – Judge denies the defendant’s motion to dismiss murder charge, allowing case to proceed to fourth trial.
- September 13, 2023 – Opening statements in fourth trial.
- September 27, 2023 – Closing arguments in fourth trial.
- October 5, 2023 – Jury finds Rintala guilty of voluntary manslaughter.
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