Court seats 3 jurors for Rintala murder trial

By JAMES PENTLAND

Staff Writer

Published: 09-06-2023 7:44 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Three jurors out of 24 who were questioned were chosen Wednesday for Cara Rintala’s fourth murder trial in Hampshire Superior Court.

The process of selecting 12 jurors and four alternates, complicated by the notoriety of the case, is expected to last all week, Northwestern Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Suhl said. The trial is scheduled for five days next week.

As in any trial, some jurors were released for cause — because they had already formed an opinion about the case — and others were released for hardship, because they had travel plans or other commitments that could not easily be broken.

If cause or hardship is not a factor, the judge and attorneys from both sides ask additional questions of all the prospective jurors. Questions raised Wednesday probed such matters as work history and attitudes toward same-sex relationships, domestic violence and police.

If the sides disagree on a juror’s suitability, an attorney can use a peremptory challenge to that candidate. Suhl said the commonwealth used two peremptory challenges and the defense used one.

When First Assistant District Attorney Steve Gagne raised the second challenge, however, Judge Frank Flannery denied it and that juror was seated.

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Suhl said there were just over 100 prospective jurors in the pool Wednesday, and all besides the three chosen for the jury would be released. Flannery and the attorneys will begin questioning a fresh jury pool of 100 more people Thursday, she said.

Rintala is accused of killing her wife, Annamarie Cochrane Rintala, at their Granby home in March 2010. Jurors at her first two trials, in 2013 and 2014, were unable to reach a verdict. Rintala was convicted at her third trial, in 2016, and spent several years in prison before the Supreme Judicial Court overturned the verdict, citing concerns about the prosecution’s paint expert’s credentials, and ordered a retrial.

Rintala, 56, is represented by Boston lawyers Rosemary Scapicchio and Chauncey Wood. She has been free on $50,000 cash bail since November 2021 and has been living with her family in Narragansett, Rhode Island. Since her incarceration, her parents had been raising Brianna, the now-teenage daughter she shared with Cochrane Rintala.

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