Law professor breaks down Rintala murder case mistrial - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Law professor breaks down Rintala murder case mistrial

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The Cara Rintala murder trial is the first of its kind in Massachusetts - the first time that a woman is being charged with the murder of her wife.

"This is a very historical case, they want a decision because it's historical, we have a same-sex couple," said Western New England University law professor Bridgette Baldwin.

Baldwin broke down the case that has captured attention in Western Mass since 2010.

Nearly three years after Anne Marie Cochran Rintala was found dead in her home, jurors deliberated her wife Cara Rintala's fate, but could not come to a decision.

"It is appropriate at this point to declare a mistrial," said Judge Mary-Lou Rup Wednesday afternoon in Hampshire Superior Court.

Cara Rintala has been held for the past year and a half. But Baldwin says this mistrial is significant leverage for the defense to get her out on bail as she awaits a new trial.

"It also becomes a victory because it becomes an opportunity for the defense to say, 'See, the jury agrees with me,'" she said.

In a press conference following the ruling, prosecutors said they aren't giving up.

"We're heartened by the fact that there were at least multiple jurors on this case who were convinced beyond a reasonable doubt," said prosecutor Steven Gagne.

But what went wrong at the Hampshire Superior Courthouse for the prosecution? Baldwin says while juries are unpredictable, the prosecution's case was based on circumstantial evidence alone.

"They directed their search primarily to her, it's a very hard case ... in this particular case, they found her holding her," Baldwin said.

Baldwin says from here, to keep Cara Rintala locked up, prosecutors will have to convince a judge.

"They're going to try to argue why she's a flight risk, why she should stay in custody and why their case is still strong," she said.

Cara Rintala will be held until a bail hearing Monday afternoon in Greenfield. Prosecutors say they want her held until a new trial is scheduled.

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