Chemical testing reveals more possible blood at scene of 2010 Granby killing of Annamarie Rintala
February 22, 2013 - Northampton, Mass. - Photo by Michael S. Gordon/The Republican - Cara L. Rintala watches as the jury enters the Hampshire Superior Courtroom Friday. Rintala is accused of killing her wife, Annamarie Cochrane Rintala. Purchase photo reprints »
NORTHAMPTON — Chemical tests performed during the investigation into Annamarie Rintala’s death revealed previously unseen stains that may be blood, according to testimony Thursday.
Annamarie Rintala’s wife, Cara Lee Rintala, 46, is charged with murder in connection with her death March 29, 2010.
Detective Kenneth Martin of the state police crime scene services testified in Cara Rintala’s trial Thursday that he performed chemical tests in the basement and on items taken from the couple’s Barton Street home in Granby the day after Annamarie Rintala’s body was discovered.
Martin said a chemical called leuco crystal violet, or LCV, was sprayed on various parts of the basement to test for the presence of blood.
Annamarie Rintala, 37, was strangled and beaten to death in the basement of her home, according to court records.
Martin said LCV reacts to iron in blood and turns from a colorless liquid to bright blue when it comes in contact with it.
It also has the potential for producing false positive results, Martin said. Some things that may cause a false reaction are some types of cleaners, including bleach, and some types of vegetables, Martin testified.
Chemical testing showed there may have been blood on a shelving unit from the couple’s basement and some areas of the floor where it was not visible, according to testimony and photos shown Thursday.
Martin showed where it appeared that whatever reacted to the LCV was smeared across a portion of the shelves in a wiping or swiping motion.
He also showed other unseen stains that reacted positively that were under items in the basement like a laundry basket and a vacuum cleaner.
Cara Rintala’s defense attorney David Hoose successfully raised several objections during Martin’s testimony when he appeared to be drawing conclusions from the results of the LCV tests or comparing evidence in this case to other cases.
Under cross-examination, Martin acknowledged a positive LCV result only means the substance could be blood, and further testing is needed to determine if that is the case.
Martin said he did not do any follow-up testing himself on the samples that reacted positively.
Martin also testified that, despite spending about 15 hours at the scene collecting and photographing evidence, he took very few notes and made no mention of how long it took the LCV to react.
Martin said in the presence of blood or another reactive substance, the LCV takes anywhere from 30 to 60 seconds to turn blue. LCV will eventually turn blue on its own after being exposed to air, but that can take anywhere from hours to days to happen, Martin said.
During Martin’s cross-examination, Hoose suggested that because both women worked as paramedics they may have disinfected themselves with bleach or a bleach-like product in the basement on occasion after their shifts.
“That residue could be bleach as much as blood,” Hoose said. Martin agreed that was possible.
Martin agreed with Hoose that the crime scene had been compromised to some degree after several police officers and other first responders had entered and left the house and had gone up and down the only set of stairs into the basement before the home was sealed off later in the evening of March 29, 2010.
Two other witnesses testified Thursday: a pair of state police detectives who spent a combined 14 hours searching in the Holyoke and South Hadley Falls areas for any evidence in the case that may have been disposed of in publicly accessible trash cans and Dumpsters.
Both detectives testified they found nothing during those searches.
Judge Mary-Lou Rup, presiding over the case in Hampshire Superior Court, ruled jurors will only receive a written transcript of a judge’s remarks from a May 2009 restraining order hearing involving both women.
In that hearing, an Eastern Hampshire District Court judge allegedly admonished the Rintalas for bringing competing restraining order requests before the court.
Hoose argued that jurors hearing his client getting “reamed out” by another judge would unfairly prejudice them.
Rup agreed and allowed the state to present the judge’s words in written form in order to help demonstrate Cara Rintala’s state of mind in the months leading up to her wife’s death.
First Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Steven Gagne said in court he expects to be able to rest his case by Wednesday.
Hoose estimated he may be able to complete his case about two days after the prosecution rests.
The trial continues today, with testimony from a state medical examiner expected.
Bob Dunn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.