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UPDATE: Defense rests, lawyers close in Cara Rintala murder trial

  • Pool photo by Michael S. Gordon/The Republican <br/> Dr. Frederick Bieber testifies Wednesday in the first-degree murder trial of Cara Lee  Rintala. The prosecution rested its case Wedneday, and the defense began presenting its case. The jury could begin deliberating Thursday.

    Pool photo by Michael S. Gordon/The Republican
    Dr. Frederick Bieber testifies Wednesday in the first-degree murder trial of Cara Lee Rintala. The prosecution rested its case Wedneday, and the defense began presenting its case. The jury could begin deliberating Thursday.

  • Pool photo by Michael S. Gordon/The Republican <br/> Dr. Frederick Bieber, a Harvard Medical School professor and a medical geneticist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, testifies as a defense witness about DNA evidence Wednesday during the Hampshire Superior Court murder trial of  Cara L. Rintala. The jury could begin deliberating Thursday.

    Pool photo by Michael S. Gordon/The Republican
    Dr. Frederick Bieber, a Harvard Medical School professor and a medical geneticist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, testifies as a defense witness about DNA evidence Wednesday during the Hampshire Superior Court murder trial of Cara L. Rintala. The jury could begin deliberating Thursday.

  • March 6, 2013 - Northampton, Mass. - Photo by Michael S. Gordon/The Republican - Ludlow firefighter/paramedic Daniel McKenney testifies Wednesday in the case of Cara L. Rintala in Hampshire Superior Court.

    March 6, 2013 - Northampton, Mass. - Photo by Michael S. Gordon/The Republican - Ludlow firefighter/paramedic Daniel McKenney testifies Wednesday in the case of Cara L. Rintala in Hampshire Superior Court.

  • March 6, 2013 - Northampton, Mass. - Photo by Michael S. Gordon/The Republican - Lori Souder, senior minister at the First Congregational Church of South Hadley testifies Wednesday in the case of Cara L. Rintala in Hampshire Superior Court.

    March 6, 2013 - Northampton, Mass. - Photo by Michael S. Gordon/The Republican - Lori Souder, senior minister at the First Congregational Church of South Hadley testifies Wednesday in the case of Cara L. Rintala in Hampshire Superior Court.

  • Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Steven Gagne, standing, presents his case to the jury in the Cara Lee Rintala murder trial on Thursday, March 7, 2013. Seated are Rintala's lawyers, David Hoose, right, and Luke Ryan, left.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Steven Gagne, standing, presents his case to the jury in the Cara Lee Rintala murder trial on Thursday, March 7, 2013. Seated are Rintala's lawyers, David Hoose, right, and Luke Ryan, left.

    SARAH CROSBY

  • Pool photo by Michael S. Gordon/The Republican <br/> Dr. Frederick Bieber testifies Wednesday in the first-degree murder trial of Cara Lee  Rintala. The prosecution rested its case Wedneday, and the defense began presenting its case. The jury could begin deliberating Thursday.
  • Pool photo by Michael S. Gordon/The Republican <br/> Dr. Frederick Bieber, a Harvard Medical School professor and a medical geneticist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, testifies as a defense witness about DNA evidence Wednesday during the Hampshire Superior Court murder trial of  Cara L. Rintala. The jury could begin deliberating Thursday.
  • March 6, 2013 - Northampton, Mass. - Photo by Michael S. Gordon/The Republican - Ludlow firefighter/paramedic Daniel McKenney testifies Wednesday in the case of Cara L. Rintala in Hampshire Superior Court.
  • March 6, 2013 - Northampton, Mass. - Photo by Michael S. Gordon/The Republican - Lori Souder, senior minister at the First Congregational Church of South Hadley testifies Wednesday in the case of Cara L. Rintala in Hampshire Superior Court.
  • Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Steven Gagne, standing, presents his case to the jury in the Cara Lee Rintala murder trial on Thursday, March 7, 2013. Seated are Rintala's lawyers, David Hoose, right, and Luke Ryan, left.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

Defense

Under questioning by Hoose, Bieber said it appeared from the test results that the DNA sample was not a fresh sample, which brings the time the stain formed into question.

Under cross-examination by Gagne, Bieber said that “fresh” could mean anywhere from a few hours old to a few days old depending on conditions such as heat and moisture.

Gagne has said that even though the sample was degraded, test results showed it tested as a more likely match to Annamarie Rintala’s DNA than other degraded samples of DNA collected from throughout the home.

Bieber said, in his opinion, it did not appear the sample had been mishandled while stored in the state crime lab.

Bieber testified he did not ever take possession of the rag or any other evidence and didn’t have first-hand knowledge of how it was collected or how it was processed and stored.

Three witnesses who knew the couple closed out Wednesday’s testimony: Cara Rintala’s pastor, a fellow parishioner from the First Congregational Church in South Hadley and a former co-worker of hers.

The Rev. Lori Souder said Cara Rintala began attending services with the couple’s daughter beginning in September 2009 and Annamarie joined them about a month later.

Souder said the family attended weekly services and a fellowship hour that followed.

Souder said Cara Rintala told her she wanted to attend in hopes of strengthening their family bonds.

She said during the fellowship hour on March 28, 2010, the family was very excited about letting her and the other parishioners know about a cruise they had recently returned from and showed photos from the trip.

Parishioner Suzanne Cordes said she met the couple in church and recalled seeing the photos and hearing about the cruise during the same March 28 fellowship hour.

Under cross-examination, both women said they were not aware of discord between the women and didn’t know that during a trip to Florida, divorce was discussed by Cara Rintala.

Daniel McKenney, a paramedic with the Ludlow Fire Department, worked on the same crew with Cara Rintala and said the couple seemed happy while attending a road race about two weeks before Annamarie Rintala was killed.

McKenney said under cross-examination that Cara Rintala had to pass basic strength requirements in order to be hired as a paramedic with the Ludlow Fire Department.

Cara Rintala faces life in prison if convicted.

The trial continues today.

Bob Dunn can be reached at bdunn@gazettenet.com .

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