Judge sends 3 jurors home; deliberations start anew in Rintala trial

  • Judge Francis E. Flannery is shown during the first day of the Cara Rintala trial in Hampshire Superior Court, Sept. 13. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 10/2/2023 1:42:12 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Jurors in the Cara Rintala murder trial, who have already spent two and a half days analyzing evidence from 10 days of testimony, were instructed to start their deliberations from scratch Monday after three of them were dismissed.

Following private discussions with each juror separately and the attorneys in the case that took up the whole morning, Hampshire Superior Court Judge Francis Flannery announced that two of the 12 deliberating jurors and one alternate juror had been excused and would no longer be part of the panel.

“Their reasons are entirely personal,” Flannery said. “I have no idea what their views on the case are.”

Two of the three remaining alternate jurors were selected at random to join the deliberating group. But Flannery warned them that they could not simply start from where they left off Friday.

“You must start deliberations all over again,” he said. “Set aside all past deliberations as if they had not taken place.”

He said jurors who had taken notes during deliberations would have to turn them over to court officers.

“It’s important that you start afresh,” Flannery said.

The judge mentioned Friday that he had received a note from jurors just before he released them for the weekend and that he would address it Monday morning. The dismissals appeared to have been prompted by the note.

Outside court, First Assistant District Attorney Steve Gagne said he was confident that the jurors who remain would be able to see their task through.

“I think we have dealt with this issue that arose today,” Gagne said, noting that the day’s developments showed the wisdom of empaneling 16 people for the jury.

The judge began meeting in sidebar conferences with each juror and the attorneys before 9:30 a.m. as white noise was broadcast over the sound system to muffle their voices for the audience. More than two hours later, the conferences concluded and Flannery called the jurors back in, minus the three who were excused. After giving them their instructions, he released them for the day, asking them to start anew Tuesday morning.

Rintala is on trial for murder for the fourth time. She is accused of killing her wife, Annamarie Cochrane Rintala, in their Granby home in 2010. Juries in her first two trial were unable to reach a verdict. She was convicted at her third trial, in 2016, but the Supreme Judicial Court overturned the verdict on appeal and ordered a retrial.

James Pentland can be reached at jpentland@gazettenet.com.


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