Medical examiner testifies about autopsy in second day of Rintala murder trial 

  • Cara Rintala listens during her trial in Hampshire Superior Court in Northampton on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016. (Dave Roback / The Republican)

  • Defense attorney David Hoose questions Lt. Michael Pandora of the Granby Fire Department in court during the Cara Rintala trial in Hampshire Superior Court in Northampton on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016. (Dave Roback / The Republican)

  • Judge Mary-Lou Rup talks to the jury the jury in the Cara Rintala trial in Hampshire Superior Court in Northampton on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016. (Dave Roback / The Republican)

  • American Medical Response, South Hadley and Granby paramedic Gene Os takes the witness stand in the Cara Rintala trial in Hampshire Superior Court in Northampton on Thursday.  Dave Roback/The Republican

  • Defense attorney David Hoose listens in court during the Cara Rintala trial in Hampshire Superior Court in Northampton on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016. (Dave Roback / The Republican)

  • American Medical Response, South Hadley and Granby paramedic Gene Os takes the witness stand in the Cara Rintala trial in Hampshire Superior Court in Northampton on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016. (Dave Roback / The Republican)

  • First Assistant District Attornery Steven Gagne listens in the Cara Rintala trial in Hampshire Superior Court in Northampton on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016. (Dave Roback / The Republican)

@mjmajchrowicz
Published: 9/15/2016 2:11:33 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Solemn and straight-faced through most of the first two days of her third murder trial, Cara Rintala gently wiped tears from her face Thursday as a jury was shown autopsy photos of the wounds and bruises on her late wife’s body.

Annamarie Cochrane Rintala was found strangled to death March 29, 2010, in the Granby home she shared with Cara and their young daughter. 

Cara Rintala, who maintains her innocence, already has been tried twice in Hampshire Superior Court for the crime. Both resulted in mistrials, in 2013 and 2014, when the juries were deadlocked. The third trial is expected to last four to five weeks.

During her testimony Thursday, Dr. Joann Richmond pivoted from her seat on the witness stand to look at the photo of Annamarie’s neck.

“This would be manual strangulation,” said Richmond, the medical examiner who performed the autopsy.

Richmond testified that the cause of death was strangulation, and that the series of head wounds and trauma injuries across her body were contributing factors. Based on the state of the blood shown in the wounds, she said, Annamarie was alive when they were inflicted.

Richmond testified they were caused by blunt-force trauma. “They’re tears of the scalp,” she said. “Not cuts.”

Richmond clarified that the injuries were the result of being struck in some way — but whether Annamarie was hit or fell into something would be impossible to determine.

“She could’ve been dazed or unconscious,” Richmond said. “It could’ve been easier to strangle them.”

She also testified that she could not determine a specific time of death.  “To determine a time of death is rare, you usually don’t have to do it,” Richmond said. She added that it was her opinion that Annamarie had been dead for hours before she was discovered.

The defense has said in previous trials that Cara last saw her wife alive around 3 p.m. the day she died. Cara wanted to leave the house with their then-2-year-old daughter to allow Annamarie to sleep after having worked an overnight shift as a paramedic.

Cara took their daughter on a series of errands and returned around 7 p.m., the defense has said.

Prosecutors say Annamarie used her phone that whole morning — making phone calls and sending texts — with its last activity at 12:21 p.m.

Cara Rintala’s attorney, David Hoose, of Northampton, is expected to cross-examine Richmond when the trial resumes Monday morning.

First responders

Earlier Thursday, two more first responders who were called to the Rintalas’ home on March 29, 2010, testified that they both assessed the condition of Annamarie’s body and witnessed a distraught and hysterical Cara.

North Brookfield Police Chief Mark Smith, who was a Granby police sergeant at the time, testified that he was dispatched to a “possible domestic situation.” Before he arrived, Smith testified that he knew police had responded to the residence on previous occasions for disputes.

The defense has stated that authorities botched the investigation when they failed to seriously consider other suspects. Hoose said in his opening statement Wednesday that authorities unfairly zeroed in on Cara when dispatchers and police repeatedly characterized the March 29 incident as “domestic,” before arriving at the scene.

Gene Os, a Granby paramedic and a friend of the Rintalas, was next to take the stand. A police officer greeted him, he recalled, in the driveway of the couple’s home.

“You know Anne, don’t you?” the officer asked, Os testified.

“Of course I know Anne,” Os told him.

“Come with me,” the officer replied, leading Os to the basement.

Os testified that as he stood at the top of the steep flight of stairs, he saw feet at the bottom of the staircase.

Taking a closer look, Os testified, he noted Annamarie’s arms locked in upward 90-degree angles.

“There was paint everywhere,” Os testified. The paint, he added, confounded him.

The prosecutor asked him how he would describe the paint he saw spread across Annamarie’s body and the area around her.

“Wet, shiny, it was all over the place,” Os said. “There were some puddles of blood in there … kind of a million things going through my mind. Basically — what the hell is going on?”

Os testified Annamarie’s wrists were “ice cold,” and that the muscles in her body had begun stiffening.

On cross-examination, Hoose asked Os whether he was certified to assess a death scene, and Os replied he was not.

Os testified that after ascending the staircase, he joined a sobbing Cara at the kitchen table. Moments before, first responders had found her at the bottom of the basement stairs, cradling her wife, both of them covered in what appeared to be fresh paint, prosecutors say.

Now sitting with Os, Cara had a request: she wanted to wash herself and get a change of clothes in the bedroom. Os allowed it, he testified.

In the bathroom, Os watched the paint come off Cara’s hands and face as she washed herself in the kitchen sink. A “trickle” of blood dripped from her nostrils to the top of her upper-lip.

She wiped it away, and Os thought nothing of it, he said in court.

As the two started toward the bedroom to retrieve Cara’s fresh clothes, an officer stopped them, Os testified.

“Nobody touches anything, and everyone backs out,” he told them, according to Os. They complied.

Michael Majchrowicz can be reached at mmajchrowicz@gazettenet.com.


Sign up for our free email updates
Daily Hampshire Gazette Headlines
Daily Hampshire Gazette Contests & Promotions
Daily Hampshire Gazette Evening Top Reads
Daily Hampshire Gazette Breaking News
Daily Hampshire Gazette Obits
Daily Hampshire Gazette Sports
Daily Hampshire Gazette PM Updates
Daily Hampshire Gazette Weekly Top Stories
Daily Hampshire Gazette Valley Advocate

Jobs



Support Local Journalism


Subscribe to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, your leading source for news in the Pioneer Valley.


Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

23 Service Center Road
Northampton, MA 01060
413-584-5000

 

Copyright © 2021 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy