Law professor explains important case notes as Cara Rintala trial awaits a verdict

This current trial began on September 6 with closing arguments wrapping up on Wednesday.
Published: Sep. 27, 2023 at 4:36 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - Over a decade ago, Annamarie Cochrane was found murdered by strangulation in her home in Granby. Her wife, Cara Rintala, then became a suspect in the case that has not concluded in over a decade.

The first 2 trials happened in 2013 and 2014 resulting in hung juries. A third trial in 2016 ended with the jury finding Rintala guilty of 1st-degree murder. However, in 2021 the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court overturned the decision stating expert witness testimony was used improperly.

This current trial began on September 6 with closing arguments wrapping up on Wednesday.

“Annamarie’s body is covered in white paint. In the inference the commonwealth wants you to draw is that was to cover up trace evidence. Why does Cara Rintala need to cover up trace evidence in her own house?” said Rintala’s Defense Attorney, Rosemary Scapicchio.

The Commonwealth argued that Rintala spilled paint in their home’s basement to cover up a crime scene, eliminating any evidence.

“Some blood couldn’t be seen until this crystal violet was applied, and suddenly the bright purple fluorescent glow came out. there is blood that used to be there that the defendant tried to clean up and remove,” said First Assistant District Attorney, Steven Gagne.

Western Mass News spoke to a local law professor who says the paint in question sets the time frame for when a medical expert suggests the victim died.

“When it dries, it would suggest that the paint would be a different color. but if it was freshly put on her, then it would be the color that comes out of the bucket. it was the color coming out of the bucket,” said Dr Bridgette Baldwin, Professor of Law at Western New England University.

She adds this case is historic for the state of Massachusetts.

“it was the 1st case where there was domestic violence and a murder charge brought against a same-sex LGBTQ couple. I could use this case in my evidence class all day long to talk about Daubert because that was the quintessential issue in overturning the conviction before. We just hope that justice is done in this particular case,” said Baldwin.

Dr. Baldwin estimates it could take between 1 and 4 days for the jury to reach a verdict.