Cara Rintala posts $50K bail in Granby murder case

  • Cara Rintala is brought into the courtroom in Hampshire Superior Court for her bail hearing Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Cara Rintala gets brought into the courtroom for her bail hearing in Hampshire Superior Court on Nov. 23, 2021. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Steve Gagne, the prosecuting attorney, talks about the bail hearing for Cara Rintala during a press conference on Nov. 23, 2021. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Carl and Sandra Montagna, Cara Rintala’s stepfather and mother, react to the bail ruling for Cara Rintala on Nov. 23, 2021. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Steve Gagne, the prosecuting attorney, talks about the bail hearing for Cara Rintala during a press conference on Nov. 23, 2021. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Cara Rintala gets brought into the courtroom for her bail hearing on Nov. 23, 2021. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Carl and Sandra Montagna, Cara Rintala’s stepfather and mother, react to the bail ruling Tuesday in Hampshire Superior Court. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 11/23/2021 1:09:43 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Superior Court Judge Richard Carey granted bail to murder defendant Cara Rintala on Tuesday, about a month after the state’s highest court overturned the 54-year-old’s 2016 conviction for the murder of her wife in Granby.

At a hearing attended by more than a dozen of Rintala’s family members, Carey set bail at $50,000 cash. Prosecutors had asked for $100,000, while Rintala attorney Chauncey Wood asked for her release on personal recognizance.

Carey ordered Rintala to remain at the Hampshire County courthouse pending the payment, after which she would be free to leave. The family posted bail Tuesday, according to the Probation Department.

“We’re hoping to get the charges dropped and have her exonerated, which she should be,” Rintala’s stepfather, Carl Montagna, said after the ruling. The real killer, he said, is “somebody else.”

Pending her fourth trial for the 2010 murder of her wife, Carey agreed to allow Rintala to live in Narragansett, Rhode Island, with her parents and her now 14-year-old daughter. She must submit to GPS monitoring, abide by a curfew of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. every night, refrain from applying for a passport and stay within Rhode Island or Massachusetts.

Annamarie Cochrane Rintala was 37 when she was beaten and strangled in the couple’s home on March 29, 2010. First responders found Cara Rintala cradling Cochrane Rintala’s body at the bottom of their basement stairs. The body was bloodied and covered in paint.

The couple’s daughter was 2 at the time.

Rintala’s first two trials, in 2013 and 2014, ended in hung juries and she was released on $150,000 bail in March 2014. Rintala’s daughter has lived with her parents in Rhode Island for about eight years, her attorney said, and during her previous time out on bail, Rintala requested the court’s permission to visit her across state lines 11 times.

At the third trial, in October 2016, Rintala was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. She has been housed at MCI-Framingham since her conviction.

In a September decision, the Supreme Judicial Court granted Rintala a new trial, ruling that her conviction relied heavily on the testimony of an expert witness who “lacked the necessary expertise” to analyze the paint evidence at the crime scene.

“She was a thoroughly successful bail recipient the last go-around,” Wood told Carey during Tuesday’s bail hearing. He said that caring for Rintala’s daughter has “robbed” her parents of their retirement, and Rintala wants to “be the parent she couldn’t be” since the legal saga started.

Speaker to reporters, First Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Steven Gagne said Rintala’s family is “free to hope” that the charges will be dropped, but after consulting with Cochrane Rintala’s family, “we’re fully set on bringing this to trial again with a new jury.”

He said he is not worried about Rintala attempting to flee, and if she does, the prosecution can present that as evidence in the next trial. The timeline for the fourth trial remains undecided, but Gagne said the district attorney’s office is hoping to get it underway in 2022.

Montagna, Rintala’s stepfather, said the evidence in the case is “circumstantial” and there are two other people who may have committed the crime. Gagne said the issue of other suspects was “aired out in the previous trials,” and that the two people in question are “not suspects. They’re red herrings.”

Attorneys are due back in court on Friday, Dec. 17, at 2 p.m. for a hearing to appoint new defense counsel for the fourth trial. Wood, Rintala’s appellate attorney, said that scheduling a new trial could take “a long time.”

Brian Steele can be reached at bsteele@gazettenet.com.


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