Cara Rintala sentenced to life in prison without parole


Staff Writer

Published: 10-13-2016 12:18 AM

NORTHAMPTON — Moments before she was sentenced Wednesday to spend the rest of her life in prison for murdering her wife, Cara Rintala trudged to a seat beside her attorneys.

The shackles around her ankles clanked and dragged along the wooden floor as Rintala, who appeared exhausted, walked.

Rintala’s trial, which lasted for roughly a month, ended with a Hampshire Superior Court jury convicting the former Granby woman of first-degree murder for the March 2010 strangulation death of her wife, Annamarie Cochrane Rintala, 37. The jury of five women and seven men deliberated for about 27 hours last week before returning a verdict.

In Massachusetts, a first-degree murder conviction carries a life sentence in prison without the possibility of parole. The conviction, however, is automatically appealed to the Supreme Judicial Court.

Before she was convicted, Rintala was tried twice earlier for the murder, with both trials ending in deadlocked juries in 2013 and 2014.

Although all of Cochrane Rintala’s immediate family was present at the sentencing, Pasquale Martin, Cochrane Rintala’s uncle, was the only person who read aloud a victim-impact statement to Judge Mary-Lou Rup.

Martin told the judge through long pauses and sobs that his niece was more like a sister. He talked about how the two watched cartoons when she came home from school as a child.

“She could sense unhappiness in a person and would find a way to help you or make light of your problems,” Martin said.

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First Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Steven Gagne also read a letter to the judge from Cochrane Rintala’s brother, Charles Cochrane.

“To me, she was ‘sis’ and I was ‘Chucky,’ and she was one of the few people I let get away with calling me that,” Cochrane wrote. “She lit up a room just by walking into it … and on March 29, 2010, at just 37 years young, that light was taken away from us.”

Cochrane wrote about the lasting effect his sister’s death had on his own family and the struggles of explaining Cochrane Rintala’s death to his young daughter.

“How do you explain something like that to a 5-year-old, (about) why your heart is completely, irreparably broken?” he wrote.

Gagne continued reading while Cochrane comforted his parents, Lucy and Bill, behind him in the court gallery.

“Everyone who knew sis has struggled with her loss,” he read. “I’m not my sister. I’m not the social butterfly that she was ... I’m not the person who became the center of attention without even trying.”

Near the end of the sentencing, Rintala’s attorney, David Hoose, told the judge the defense did not wish to be heard.

Through all of this, Rintala sat silent. At the end of the proceeding, after the clerk read aloud the mandatory sentence, Rintala trudged back through the courtroom door, the shackles banging and clanking off the wood floors with each step.

Outside the courthouse, Cara Rintala’s stepfather, Carl Montagna, stood talking with other family members.

“It’s a travesty of justice,” Montagna said.

Michael Majchrowicz can be reached at