A Superior Court judge has denied convicted murderer Cara Rintala’s motion for a new trial in a Dec. 13 written decision.
Rintala was convicted of first –degree murder on Oct. 7, 2016 in connection with the March 29, 2010 strangulation and beating death of her wife Annamarie Cochrane inside their home in Granby, Massachusetts. It was the third time the case had been tried. Two previous trials ended in mistrials because of deadlocked juries.
In her motion for a new trial, the defendant, who was sentenced to life in prison, argued that her defense attorney, David Hoose of Northampton, failed to provide an adequate defense, because he did not call an expert witness to testify at trial on the reliability of a paint analysis performed by the Commonwealth’s expert witness, David Guilianelli.
Guilianelli, a paint quality engineer, testified that paint that was found on Annamarie Cochrane’s body had been poured not long before police arrived in an apparent effort to alter the crime scene.
“The defendant’s argument that trial counsel was ineffective because he did not call an expert to rebut Mr. Guilianelli’s testimony at trial is unpersuasive,” Superior Court Associate Justice Jane Mulqueen, wrote in her Dec. 13 decision.
“Attempting to discredit the Commonwealth’s expert by means of thorough cross-examination in lieu of calling a competing expert witness was not manifestly unreasonable in the circumstance.”
Mulqueen adds: “The decision to call, or not to call, an expert witness fits squarely within the realm of strategic tactical decisions.”
First Assistant District Attorney Steven E. Gagne, who prosecuted the case along with Deputy District Attorney Jennifer H. Suhl, praised Mulqueen’s decision.
“We are pleased the Court saw through the defendant’s attempt to throw her trial attorney under the bus and blame her conviction on his performance,” Gagne said. “The defendant was convicted not because of her attorney’s performance at trial, but rather, because of the overwhelming evidence of her guilt. We look forward to defending this conviction throughout the remainder of the appellate process.”
Rintala can now appeal the denial of her motion for new trial, along with her underlying conviction, to the Supreme Judicial Court. All first-degree murder convictions are automatically reviewed by the state’s highest court.