MA v. Cara Rintala: Body in the Basement Trial

Posted at 1:55 PM, October 20, 2023

BOSTON (Court TV) — A Massachusetts woman was sentenced to spend 12-14 years in prison after a jury found her guilty of voluntary manslaughter in her fourth trial for the murder of her wife.

Cara Rintala, now 56, had been accused in the death of Annamarie Cochrane Rintala, who was found beaten and strangled in the basement of the couple’s Granby home on March 29, 2010. First responders found Cara sobbing and cradling Annamarie’s bloodied body; both were covered in white paint. Annamarie and Cara were both paramedics.

In their opening statements, prosecutors said Cara killed Annamarie after years of “a relationship fraught with explosive arguments,” including physical battles, arguments over custody, restraining orders and 911 calls.

Cara’s defense argued the police department jumped to conclusions after responding to a domestic 911 call at the couple’s home, and suggested there could be other suspicious people responsible for the killing.

cara rintala mugshot

FILE – Cara Rintala (Narragansett Police Department)

According to the medical examiner’s ruling, Annamarie died of manual strangulation.

Cara maintains she was running errands with the couple’s two-year-old daughter and arrived home to find her wife dead. Prosecutors allege Cara fatally strangled Annamarie before staging the scene to look like an accident occurred. They say she ran errands to establish an alibi, and even sent Annamarie a series of texts that went unanswered in order to fuel her narrative.

Cara’s first trial in 2013 and second trial in 2014 ended in mistrials because the deadlocked juries could not reach a unanimous verdict.

At her third trial in 2016, Cara was convicted of Annamarie’s murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole. That conviction, however, was overturned by Massachusetts’ highest court, which stated that a witness for the prosecution who testified about paint evidence found at the scene “lacked the necessary expertise.”

The witness was a paint quality engineer who told the jury that paint discovered on and near Annamarie’s body was still fresh. Medical experts, in the meantime, had testified that Annamarie’s deceased body had been in the basement for up to eight hours. Prosecutors argued that Cara herself had contaminated the crime scene with the paint.

Upon announcing their decision to overturn the case, the high court stated that the paint quality engineer’s testimony “lacked the requisite reliability and therefore should not have been admitted,” and because “it was significant and likely swayed the jury’s verdict, we conclude that the error was prejudicial, and we therefore vacate the judgment against the defendant.”

The paint expert also testified that Cara had poured ceiling paint over the crime scene within a four hour window of the time emergency responders took photos of the scene.

Since Nov. 2021, Cara had been living free on bail with her family in Rhode Island with a court-appointed curfew and GPS monitoring. After the verdict, Cara, who was in tears, was handcuffed and taken into custody.

At Cara’s sentencing, her daughter Brianna spoke on her behalf, asking a judge to release her mother and allow her to return home. Judge Francis Flannery recognized the loss of Annamarie’s daughter, however, as he sentenced Cara to 12-14 years in prison.