Cara Rintala Trial: Live updates from Da...
 
9:10
9:07 a.m. Fred Contrada signing in for continuing coverage of the Cara Rintala murder trial for The Republican on MassLive. The courtroom is packed today in anticipation of closing arguments. First the defense plans to call its last witness, a medical expert. The clerks have been getting the evidence in order for the jury's review once they take the case.

While there have been only a few media here for most of the trial, our corner of the room is packed with TV reporters and cameras.
Thursday March 7, 2013 9:10 
9:11
9:09 a.m. Friends and family of both the victim and defendant are in court, as well as some impartial observers. I can't see Cara because there are heads in the way, but previously she looked quiet and nervous, as she has throughout the trial.
Thursday March 7, 2013 9:11 
9:12
9:11 a.m. Judge Mary-Lou Rup is laying out the procedure for packaging the evidence. The jury is entering. Rup speaks to counsel at sidebar.
Thursday March 7, 2013 9:12 
9:16
9:13 a.m. Rup is addressing the jury. She tells them there are 133 exhibits in the case and the court has already put them in order for them to examine. This will save an hour, she said. Sher asks the usual question: Have any of you read or heard anything about the case? No positive reply.

Hoose calls Dr. Elizabeth Laposata.
Thursday March 7, 2013 9:16 
9:20
9:16 a.m. Laposata lives in Providence, R.I., where she works as the chief medical examiner for Rhode Island. She teaches at Boston University medical school and at Brown University. Laposata has done 4,000-5,000 autopsies, she says.

She gets $400 an hour for her work as an expert witness in this case.
Thursday March 7, 2013 9:20 
9:21
[Comment From MarissaMarissa: ] 
Also, any room for more observers in the courtroom?
Thursday March 7, 2013 9:21 Marissa
9:21
9:20 a.m. The room is pretty packed.
Thursday March 7, 2013 9:21 
9:24
9:21 a.m. Hoose: Do you agree the cause of death was strangulation?
Laposata: Yes. Also some of the injuries were caused by a fall down the stairs. She says it is not an exact science estimating time of death. She enumerates three ways to estimate time of death: info gathered at scene about the body; autopsy info; police and witness statements.
Thursday March 7, 2013 9:24 
9:28
9:24 a.m. Laposata says you have to have reliable sources. The best way is for the ME to go to the scene. Mass. does not have a system to train death scene investigators. You have to use all your information sources, try to get as much info as you can.
Laposata defines rigor mortis: the stiffening of the body after death. It's a biochemical process. After death the cells use all the sugar in the muscles and the muscles become stiff.
Thursday March 7, 2013 9:28 
9:32
9:27 a.m. Laposata wants exact info about the stiffness of the body, particularly in the jaw, arms and knees. Obesity, nakedness, temperature, illness can affect the onset of rigor mortis.
Hoose: What if the deceased had been in a struggle?
Laposata: Rigor could come on really fast.
Thursday March 7, 2013 9:32 
9:38
9:32 a.m.Laposata refers to a chalkboard I can't see.
She shows the jury the various stages of rigor. Manifest in 1-6 hours. Maximum 8-24 hours. Leaves 12-36 hours.
Livor mortis, Laposata says, is the settling of the blood in the body. Afetr you die your heart stops pumping blood and the blood settles according to gravity. Helps to establish the position at time of death.
Livor is manifest in 1-4 hours. Maximum 4-10 hours. It stays fixed after that. If she can press away the color, then the livor is not fixed.
Thursday March 7, 2013 9:38 
9:38
[Comment From Guest17Guest17: ] 
Only 1 defense witness scheduled? Can that change over the course of the day?
Thursday March 7, 2013 9:38 Guest17
9:38
9:37 a.m. Not unless the defendant testifies.
Thursday March 7, 2013 9:38 
9:42
9:38 a.m. Hoose asks about "algor" (sp?) mortis. Laposata says algor is the cooling of the body after death. There is a temparture probe you can use to take an internal body temp. They make an incision with a scalpel and put the probe in the liver. This gives the core temp., which decreases 1 1/2-2 degees an hour.
General statements about the coldness of the body is of no use to me.
Thursday March 7, 2013 9:42 
9:44
[Comment From guest13guest13: ] 
Has there been any mention of stomach content and her last meal in relation to the time of death?
Thursday March 7, 2013 9:44 guest13
9:44
9:42 a.m. Laposata says stomach contents can be informative.
Thursday March 7, 2013 9:44 
9:49
9:43 a.m. Laposata also gathers circumstantial info in estimating time of death (they havent brought their mail in for 3 days, e.g.)
Hoose asks if rigor mortis is a reliable, helpful tool in this case? Laposata says there wasnt enough detailed info about rigor.
Hoose asks about livor mortis. Laposata says she looked at photos for that.
She says there is no info about when Annamarie last ate or what she ate, there wasnt much in her stomach. Gastric contents were no help.
Laposata describes the circumstantial information she gathered about Annamarie that day. Napping, etc. Ann's use of her cell. A call to her aunt at 12:30 p.m., the last activfity on that phone.
Thursday March 7, 2013 9:49 
9:55
9:49 a.m. Laposata estimates the time of death, based on what data she could gather. She is using photos to explain her conclusion to the jury, although she has not yet given her conclusion. The first photo is of Ann's paint-splattered, swollen body. She says we dont see any livor. Her face is purple because of the strangulation, but that's not livor. No livor on the sides of her abdomen. It was not well established, not fixed. She would have been lying face down for maybe a couple of hours.
Thursday March 7, 2013 9:55 
9:57
9:55 a.m. This photo is of Annamarie's back (She has been turned on her side). There's a lot of livor on her back, Laposata says. The photo was taken the day after the murder. As always, the Cochranes lower their heads and dont look at these pictures.
Thursday March 7, 2013 9:57 
10:00
9:57 a.m. Laposata now gives estimate of death at 2-5 hours before she was found at 7 p.m. In other words, 2:30-3 ish to as late as 5:20 p.m.
Hoose done. Gagne on cross.
Thursday March 7, 2013 10:00 
10:05
9:59 a.m. Gagne asks Laposata her initial estimate. You said 2:30-3 p.m. at earliest? Gagne goes over the info Laposata looked at. In Rhode Island do you estimate time of death as a matter of routine?
Laposata: It depends on the case.
Thursday March 7, 2013 10:05 
10:05
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
why is her opinion so different from the ME that actually did the autopsy?
Thursday March 7, 2013 10:05 Guest
10:06
10:05 a.m. This is an interesting question for the jury to ponder.
Thursday March 7, 2013 10:06 
10:10
10:05 a.m. Gagne asks if time of death can change if new info becomes available. Laposata says this statement is right out of one of her textbooks. Yes. Gagne shows Dr. Richmond's death certificate. It's dated April 2, 2010. Autopsy done the previous day. Richmond listed time of death as "unknown." Afterwards Richmond had a sit down with the lead investigator and prosecutor before providing an estimate. Laposata says this was the prudent path.
Thursday March 7, 2013 10:10 
10:16
10:09 a.m. Laposata agrees that Richmond's delayed estimate was not unusual, given the situation. Gagne is arguing that the paramedics at the scene were trained. Laposata agrees. Why did you never request their reports or observations? You never actually saw their written observations. You didnt avail yourself of first and info.
Laposata: Correct. I relied on grand jury testimony.
Thursday March 7, 2013 10:16 
10:19
10:15 a.m. Laposata says a paramedic has no training in rigor or livor mortis. That info is extremely limited for my use.
Gagne: But you said witness statements are of value to a forensic pathologist. Did you ever request the videotape statement by the first person who saw the body (this would be Cara's interview with police).
Gagne: Do you even know if it exists?
Laposata: No.
Thursday March 7, 2013 10:19 
10:22
10:18 a.m. Gagne: Have you ever offered a time of death down to a minute or second?
Laposata: When the death is witnessed. Once I had a case where a gentleman shot himself through his watch.
Thursday March 7, 2013 10:22 
10:22
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Did Gagne raise his voice--the all caps part?
Thursday March 7, 2013 10:22 Guest
10:22
10:21 a.m. No, I accidentally hit the Caps lock.
Thursday March 7, 2013 10:22 
10:27
10:23 a.m. Laposata says nothing Richmond did regarding her estimates was outside the norm (under questioning by Gagne).
Gage is questioning Laposata about the observations made of the body at the scene. He is grilling her on her choice of words.
Thursday March 7, 2013 10:27 
10:27
[Comment From johnjohn: ] 
Do you think the defense will call Mike C
Thursday March 7, 2013 10:27 john
10:27
10:26 a.m. I don't believe so.
Thursday March 7, 2013 10:27 
10:28
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
is she the former Chief Medical Examiner in Rhode Island?
Thursday March 7, 2013 10:28 Guest
10:28
10:26 a.m. I believe she said she currently holds this title.
Thursday March 7, 2013 10:28 
10:31
10:27 a.m. Gagne asks about Annamarie's arms being elevated off the ground. Laposata says they were "somewhat" still, consistent with early rigor.
Gagne: Weren't they elevated off the ground?
Laposata: Yes.
Thursday March 7, 2013 10:31 
10:42
10:31 a.m. Gagne: At the moment Annamarie was strangled to death, you don't know if she was face up or face down.
Laposata: Correct.
Gagne: You don't know how many times the body was moved after that?
Laposate: Correct.
Gagne: You don't know how much activity Annamarie had before death, if there was a battle?
Laposata: Correct.
Gagne: Some injuries may be consistent with a fall down the stairs. (Yes).
Gagne: All three head wounds could have come from a single fall down the stairs? (He shows photos of head wounds).
Laposata: They were linear. Consistent with the edge of stairs.
Gagne: Could that have left her unconscious or stunned? Diminished her ability to ward off strangulation?
Laposata: It could.
Gagne: Diminishing her ability to inflict wounds on her perpetrator.
Gagne: After the head wounds, she was still alive. She didn't die till at least 4 minutes of sustained pressure to her neck.
Laposata: Right.
Thursday March 7, 2013 10:42 
10:45
10:42 p.m. Laposata says to strangle someone you have to obstruct the jugular vein and keep the blood from leaving the head. It takes several pounds of pressure. With more perssure you can crush the larynx.
Gagne: How much of a squeeze would that be? Doesn't take that much force, right?
Laposata: Correct.
Gagne talks about stomach contents. Laposata said there wasn't enough info to be helpful.
Thursday March 7, 2013 10:45 
10:52
10:45 a.m. Gagne asks about Annemarie's cell phone activity. After the call to her aunt at 12:21 p.m., Cara tried to call after 4 p.m. Nothing in between. Would you agree someone's cell phone activity would be very telling.
Laposata: Sure.
Gagne: That morning Ann and Oleksak exchanged numerous calls and texts. She always called or texted back right away. Oleksak texted her at 1:53 p.m. It was never read, a response never sent. Inconsistent with pattern?
Laposata: Yes. But I think she was napping and her phone was under the pillow.
Gagne: Cara told police when she left the house at 3 p.m. Ann was still awake.
Laposata: It's possible she was napping.
Thursday March 7, 2013 10:52 
10:56
10:51 a.m. Gagne shows photo of Ann's dead body. You says lividity takes 4-10 hours. Laposata says 8 for maximum. Gagne says if you flip the body before full lividity, wont the blood flow back the other way?
Thursday March 7, 2013 10:56 
11:01
10:56 a.m. Laposata doubles her estimate of the low end of the range for maximum lividity. Now she says maximum is reached in 8-10 hours.
Gagne: If Ann died at 3 p.m., Cara comes home at 7 p.m. 4 hours later, lividity would still be in its early stages? (Yes). Are there any other numbers you want to change or increase or double? (I'm good with that). You say Ann could have been killed as early as 2:30. You know Cara didn't leave the house till 3.
Gagne done. Hoose on re-direct.
Thursday March 7, 2013 11:01 
11:04
11:01 a.m. Hoose: You reviewed grand jury minutes with testimony of Magarian and others. Did you see any photo by which you can tell hands elevated off the ground?
Laposata: No.
Hoose done. Laposata steps down. Defense rests. Sidebar.
Thursday March 7, 2013 11:04 
11:04
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
I have sent blogs. How come I do not see them?
Thursday March 7, 2013 11:04 Guest
11:06
11:03 a.m. I try to answer questions if I know the answer and if I have time. If it is a question I've answered several times already, I tend not to publish the blog. Not everything that readers blog appears here. I also stay away from blogs in which people claim personal knowledge that has not been presented in court or in which they opine about the evidence. Obviously I dont publish inapproipriate comments, though there have not been many of those.
Thursday March 7, 2013 11:06 
11:08
11:06 a.m. Rup tells the jury that closing statements will come after the mid-morning break. The evidence is over. The closings are not evidence. Court back in 20 minutes. Closings will take about one hour per side.
Thursday March 7, 2013 11:08 
11:27
11:25 a.m. Back in court waiting for the judge. To continue from before, I avoid publishing blogs that draw conclusions from testimony. It's not that I dont agree with the conclusions, but this is not the place for it. There are also questions that are tricky to answer. I can guess why the defense did not call a certain witness, for example, but I dont want to guess and the reasons are seldom spelled out explicitly by the laywers.
Thursday March 7, 2013 11:27 
11:27
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
who will give closing arguments first
Thursday March 7, 2013 11:27 Guest
11:28
11:26 a.m. This I can answer. The defense always goes first. The prosecution always gets the final word.
Thursday March 7, 2013 11:28 
11:28
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Will there be a place we can go to hear entire closing arguments. You have done a great job.
Thursday March 7, 2013 11:28 Guest
11:29
11:27 a.m. The only place you can hear the entire closings is in court. Transcripts will be available but they run about $1 a page.
Thursday March 7, 2013 11:29 
11:29
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Are any TV stations there for the closing?
Thursday March 7, 2013 11:29 Guest
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