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Regional News

Rintala released on $50,000 bail, as prosecutor 'focusing on the next trial'

Cara Rintala, who was accused of killing her wife in 2010, is out on bail – two months after the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court vacated her 2016 conviction. She still faces a possible fourth trial.

Rintala's friends and family were jubilant in the courthouse lobby after Hampshire Superior Court Judge Richard Carey granted Rintala $50,000 bail. The amount was a compromise, as Rintala had asked to be released on her own recognizance while prosecutor Stephen Gagne requested $100,000, in order to reduce the risk of flight.

“I think that a significant amount of cash bail is warranted by the nature and the circumstances of this case,” Gagne said in court. “Obviously, this being the most serious criminal offense a person can be charged with in Massachusetts, and the potential penalty that she faces if convicted.”

Gagne also wanted Rintala to stay in Massachusetts, but the judge ruled she could move in with her parents and 14-year-old daughter in Rhode Island, as long as she wears a GPS ankle bracelet, does not apply for a passport and follows other conditions.

Rintala told the judge she understood and agreed to abide by the terms of her release.

Cara Rintala's stepfather, Carl Montagna, is hugged after Judge Richard Carey ruled in Hampshire Superior Court that Rintala could be released on bail and live with her parents in Rhode Island.
Credit Don Treeger / The Republican / masslive.com
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The Republican / masslive.com
Cara Rintala's stepfather, Carl Montagna, is hugged after Judge Richard Carey ruled in Hampshire Superior Court that Rintala could be released on bail and live with her parents in Rhode Island.

After the hearing, Rintala's stepfather, Carl Montagna, said there was one thing on their agenda.

“Just get her home,” he said “That's what this is all about. Just get her home.”

What's unclear is how long Rintala will get to stay home.

In 2016, Rintala was convicted of murdering her wife Annamarie Cochrane Rintala, after two previous trials ended in hung juries. 

The case attracted widespread attention, in part because it was believed to be the first time in Massachusetts a person was charged with murdering their same-sex spouse.

Cochrane had been found dead in their Granby, Massachusetts, basement, covered in paint. In the last trial, prosecutors used a paint specialist to bolster the prosecution's case against Rintala. But in September, the state's highest court overturned that conviction because it determined one of the expert witnesses did not use reliable scientific methods.

The prosecutor, Gagne, said the district attorney's office is ready to try her again, without that witness.

“I've never had a case be tried four times, so it certainly is unprecedented,” Gagne told reporters Tuesday. “But, on the other hand, this is a murder case. Annamarie Cochrane is not coming back. Her family still grieves her loss every day, so we have every incentive and every motivation to try again.”

First Assistant District Attorney Steven E. Gagne speaks to the media following a bail hearing for Cara Rintala in Hampshire Superior Court on November 23, 2021.
Credit Don Treeger / The Republican / masslive.com
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The Republican / masslive.com
First Assistant District Attorney Steven E. Gagne speaks to the media following a bail hearing for Cara Rintala in Hampshire Superior Court on November 23, 2021.

Gagne said Cochrane's family is willing to go through another trial and has not asked his office to drop the charges.

“It's not as important to us where [Rintala] spends the next year, year and a half until the fourth trial,” Gagne said. “We're focusing on the next trial and securing the right outcome.”

Cara Rintala poses with her attorney, Chauncey Wood, after she was released on bail, on November 23, 2021.
Credit Submitted
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Cara Rintala poses with her attorney, Chauncey Wood, after she was released on bail, on November 23, 2021.

However, Rintala's lawyer, Chauncey Wood, said Gagne's vow to go back to court is not a sure thing.  

“We're optimistic that when he's had a chance to think about it and we've had a chance to talk [at] greater length about it, he might change his mind,” Wood said. “People change their minds.”

Rintala had previously been out on bail for more than two years before her third trial. At that time, bail was set at $150,000 and she had to stay in Massachusetts.

Rintala's parents, who are almost 80, have been raising her daughter.

A few hours after the bail hearing, Rintala's parents posted her bail and she was released.

The next hearing is scheduled for December 17.

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