Cara Rintala Trial: Live updates from Da...
 
9:07
8:58 a.m. Fred Contrada signing in for continued coverage of the Cara Rintala murder trial.

The jury was told yesterday not to come until 9:30 today because the court will have some matters to discuss first.

One of those matters is a motion filed by the defense for a directed verdict of not guilty. This is a common practice in trials. The defense is arguing to the judge that there has not been sufficient evidence presented for a jury to find its client guilty. It therefore asks the judge to step in in place of the jury and declare the client not guilty. I can't off the top of my head remember a case in which the judge has done this, though there might have been some during my career. In a big case, I think, the judge prefers to let a jury decide based on the evidence and would be reluctant to declare the defendant not guilty unilaterally.

In this case, however, you could make the argument that the prosecution has presented little if any evidence putting Rintala at the crime scene. The case is almost entirely circumstantial. There are no fingerprints or DNA putting Rintala in the basement with her wife's body. The prosecution has not even offered a theory proposing a chain of events that resulted in the murder, how Rintala managed to knock her wife out and strangle her, or what led up to the event.

On the other hand, prosecutors have portrayed her as the most viable suspect. The defense has tried to deflect suspicion on Oleksak and Daniele, but it would be even harder to prove that either of them did it. The best evidence the prosecution has, if you can call it that, is its time-line theory, which would put Rintala at home with Annamarie at the theoretical time she was murdered.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 9:07 
9:10
9:06 a.m. Rup has been in chambers reading the motion for a directed verdict and now she is back on the bench. The room is filling with the families of the defendant and victim. Luke Ryan is arguing the motion before the judge.

Ryan says the motion includes a synopsis of the prosecution's case. The law, he says, makes it clear that motive and opportunity is not enough to get a case to a jury. Ryan says there is no forensic evidence to tie Rintala to the crime. No blood or hair. Cara's blood on the shower curtain and necklace is irrelevant, he says. You can't tell what time it was deposited.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 9:10 
9:15
9:10 a.m. Ryan says there would have been marks on Rintala. He says there were prints in locations of interest that could not be identified but did exclude Rintala. There could have been other suspects, he says. He notes that Rintala has been cooperative. Ryan dismisses the DNA from the McDonalds trash as inconclusive of anything. He now cites the prosecution's tie-line, says Rintala's own estimate is her best guess as to when she left the house. Ryan disputes Dr. Richmond's estimate of 6-8 hours, saying she originally listed the time as "unknown." Richmond changed it after talking to people at the scene, he said, people who were not qualified to judge the state of the body.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 9:15 
9:19
9:14 a.m. Ryan says Richmond's theory is rough and unreliable. He repeats that the case is weak and does not meed the standard of getting to a jury.

If Rup declines the motion, he says, Rup should reconsider the first degree murder charge. The prosecution has not shown premeditation, he says, one of the elements of a first degree murder charge. It has not laid out a proper sequence of events. There is no evidence of a weapon.

Regarding extreme atrocity, another of the three possible elements for first degree murder, Ryan says it should be reserved for crimes of a certain heinousness. There has been no evidence of pain and suffering in this case, Ryan says. Annamarie might have been unconscious when she was strangled.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 9:19 
9:23
9:19 a.m. Prosecutor Steven Gagne rebuts.


He goes back to the time of death estimate of 6-8 hours. That puts Cara as the only adult in the house when the crime occurred, he says. Gagne says other evidence also points to Cara. Cara was declaring herself the number one suspect to police in an interview. The killer was familiar with the setting, took their time. Hacking at the door did not succeed, was inflicted afterwards to make it look like a break, he says. We have Cara's blood on several surfaces at the scene, significant hostility, financial pressure, tug of war over the daughter.

Regarding premeditation, it would have taken 4 of more minutes to strangle Annamarie. Once she lost consciousness, the defendant maintained pressure for 4 minutes, more than enough time to realize what she was doing.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 9:23 
9:25
9:23 a.m. Gagne says extreme atrocity is met by the number of blows to the victim's head (3 deep lacerations). Annamarie's heart was still pumping after the head wounds were inflicted. Abrasions on her neck. He asks the motion be denied.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 9:25 
9:27
9:24 a.m. Rup notes that the judge must consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth. Although much of the evidence is circumstantial, she is satisfied it's enough for the charge to go to the jury. She also is satisfied that a jury could find evidence to support a charge of first degree murder. She denies the motion.

Gagne has rested his case. The defense will begin its case.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 9:27 
9:31
[Comment From guestguest: ] 
fred, is the jury aware of this motion and the outcome?
Wednesday March 6, 2013 9:31 guest
9:31
9:27 a.m. No.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 9:31 
9:39
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Doesnt the jury have the right to know the judges decision?
Wednesday March 6, 2013 9:39 Guest
9:40
9:339 a.m. It's not a matter of rights. The judge's decision might unduly influence its thinking.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 9:40 
9:40
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Do you know if Oleksak or Daniele will be called to the stand?
Wednesday March 6, 2013 9:40 Guest
9:41
9:40 a.m. I do not know, but if they appear Masslive readers will be the first to know.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 9:41 
9:41
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
Does the jury have a time limit today like yesterday
Wednesday March 6, 2013 9:41 Guest
9:41
9:40 a.m. Today is a full day. Court will end around 4 p.m.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 9:41 
9:42
[Comment From SusanLSusanL: ] 
are there photographers in the room today
Wednesday March 6, 2013 9:42 SusanL
9:42
9:41 a.m. Our photographer is here for The Republican.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 9:42 
9:49
9:43 a.m. Jury has entered.
Gagne formally rests.
Hoose calls Dr. Frederick Bieber, professor at Harvard Medical School. He is an expert in genetics and DNA analysis. He works at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston doing DNA and genetic testing.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 9:49 
9:54
9:48 a.m. Bieber does forensic testing, he says. Helped to set national standards for DNA testing regarding crimes. He helped ID victims of 911 attack in New York, Hurrican Katrina, helped identify the bodies of soldiers from recent wars. Bieber helped the state police set up their lab in Massachusetts.
Bieber is obviously an expert witness for the defense. Gagne has objected to the submission of his qualification. They are discussing this at sidebar.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 9:54 
9:58
9:53 a.m. Hoose resumes his questioning. Asks about degraded samples of DNA. Bieber talks about remains from Korea and Vietnam soldiers, World Trade Center, Katrina. Hoose asks about DNA results from this case. Bieber did not do his own testing on this DNA but reviewed the prosecution's work.
He ennumerates these samples.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 9:58 
10:02
9:58 a.m. Bieber looks at a report given him by Hoose concerning the case and DNA testing. He focused his review on one particular item of evidence: DNA taken from a gray rag.
Hoose: What is degraded DNA.
Bieber: Molecules have been broken apart. DNA can last for more than 10,000 years if the conditions are good. If there is heat and moisture, DNA can degrade in a few weeks.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 10:02 
10:07
10:02 a.m. Hoose: What is diluted DNA?
Bieber: DNA less concentrated because it's mixed withy water or other things.
Hoose shows the jury data on a document about Annamarie's blood. This involves numbers connected to various DNA markers.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 10:07 
10:10
10:07 a.m. Bieber explains the meaning of the numbers and markers. This is hard for the lay person to understand. Things like "Relative Flourescent Units." 2,000 RFUs typical of an undegraded blood sample, he says.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 10:10 
10:13
10:09 a.m. Hoose now shows Bieber DNA from swab from gray rag from McDonalds. Bieber is essentially saying you can't get much intact DNA data from the sample. He calls the profile "a text book example of degraded DNA."
Wednesday March 6, 2013 10:13 
10:19
Frederick Bieber testifies in Hampshire Superior Court. [Photo by Michael S. Gordon | The Republican]
Wednesday March 6, 2013 10:19 
10:19
10:13 a.m. Hoose continues about gray rag. Is it possible to know if the DNA there is from the reddish brown stain or some other material.'
Bieber: No.
Hoose puts DNA profile on the screen again. Bieber said it has not been diluted by water.
Hoose asks Bieber to assume the rag was put in an open container exposed to the rain, that it was found with 2 other rags, temp. in 40s, rag recovered from trash recepticle 24 hours after it was put there. Would the DNA degrade to look like this document?
Bieber: No.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 10:19 
10:23
10:18 a.m. Hoose done. Gagne on cross.
Gagne asks what data Bieber reviewed from this case. He cites various reports. Bieber is flipping through his material. He doesnt have the specific "criminialistis" reports Gagne asks about. Bieber says he can't recasll if he reviewed those reports.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 10:23 
10:29
10:23 a.m. Gagne: Those reports detail what a chemist did to analyse a particular item.
Gagne: Have you reviewed any crime scene reports?
Bieber: No.
Gagne: Where is the rest of what you were given?
Bieber: Could have given it back to Hoose, could be in my office. He doesnt know.
Gagne: How many hours have you put in on this case?
Bieber: 10-15 at least.
Gagne: Do you plan to send Hoose a bill?
Bieber: I havent thought about it yet.
Gagne: What is your normal rate?
Bieber: $350 an hour plus expenses.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 10:29 
10:35
10:29 a.m. Bieber: I consider myself a public servant.
Gagne: But you're here at Hoose's request.
Bieber: Yes.
Gagne: You didnt generate a report. Is that unusual?
Bieber: No.
Gagne: Cites the testimony of Tina Gryszowka, a DNA witness for the prosecution.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 10:35 
10:41
10:35 a.m. Bieber explains the concept of DNA transfer.
Gagne: We're talking about skin cells, right? How many skin cells might slop off?
Bieber: Depends. More on a hammer than on a pen.
Gagne: Blood is fertile in DNA.
Bieber: Yes. You could get lots of DNA from a drop of blood.
Gagne: Cites swab from door latch. Shows photo of bend latch. Bieber never saw it before. Bieber says he never saw surveillance videos. He understands that the rags were in a vehicle before they were in the McDonalds trash.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 10:41 
10:42
10:41 a.m. Gagne presses Bieber on info he has. Hoose objects. Sidebar.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 10:42 
10:47
10:43 a.m. Gagne asks Bieber if he knows the history of the McDonalds rags. He says he does not. Gagne shows him a photo of trash can under sink in the Rintala klitchen. Bieber has not seen this before.
(Gagne is trying to show that Bieber lacks a broad context in which to review the evidence).
Wednesday March 6, 2013 10:47 
10:53
10:47 a.m. Gagne: Where did the rags go next after McDonalds.
Bieber: Cant recall.
Gagne goes back to photo of the door latch, says there was DNA on it. Biebe goes through his papers.
Hoose asks to be heard at sidebar.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 10:53 
10:53
[Comment From privateprivate: ] 
Do you see either side wrapping this up today. What is the body language of Cara today?
Wednesday March 6, 2013 10:53 private
10:54
10:53 a.m. Not today. I can't normally see Cara. She has seemed stoic throughout the trial, though emotional at times.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 10:54 
10:54
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 
is he suppose to be a ceditable witness for the defense?
Wednesday March 6, 2013 10:54 Guest
10:54
10:53 a.m. Yes.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 10:54 
10:57
10:54 a.m. Gagne says the door latch was swabbed for DNA. Probably talking about skin cells. How would you descrieb the DNA item?
Bieber: Partial.
Gagne: Gryszowka said Annamarie could have been a provider. (Bieber again shuffles through his papers).
Wednesday March 6, 2013 10:57 
10:58
[Comment From privateprivate: ] 
Who do you believe has the stronger case by reading seems defense is a little weaker in the past few days
Wednesday March 6, 2013 10:58 private
10:58
10:57 a.m. The only opinion on this that matters is the jury's. I should note that only the prosecution has to prove its case.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 10:58 
11:03
10:58 a.m. Gagne shows an apparent blood spot on a piece of evidence. Bieber says the DNA profile is similar to Cara's.
Rup calls mid-morning recess. Back in 15-20 minutes.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 11:03 
11:23
11:20 a.m. Court back in session, waiting for the jury. As to what Bieber is providing for the defense and how he is doing, it is the norm for defense to call their own expert witnesses in big cases. These people are usually professionals hwo not only know their material but how to act under cross-examination. His job is to give the jury a plausible explanation of the evidence that differs from the prosecutions.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 11:23 
11:23
[Comment From eddieeddie: ] 
So what did bieber prove for the defense
Wednesday March 6, 2013 11:23 eddie
11:25
11:23 a.m. Gagne: What is "fresh" regarding blood.
Bieber: A few hours to a day or two.
Gagne: You opined about the freshness of a sample. What do you mean?
Bieber: Hours or days.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 11:25 
11:30
11:25 a.m. Gagne goes to the "electroferogram" chart previous shown. Asks Bieber about his conclusions, about whether or not the DNA sample was fresh. Bieber again acknowledges he does not know the history of the rag before testing. (I believe they are referring to the gray McDonalds rag). This has obviously gotten technical and somewhat arcane. At issue here for Gagne is Bieber's credibility.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 11:30 
11:33
11:30 a.m. Even though Bieber's testimony might be scientifically sound and consistent, if he loses the jury it will not be in his favor. Some jurors are meticulous in following such testimony, taking notes and paying close attention. Sometimes it's hard to follow such testimony.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 11:33 
11:36
11:32 a.m. Gagne done with Bieber. Hoose on re-direct.
Hoose: Were you prepared to testify about anything other than the gray rag today?
Bieber: No.
Hoose: Does anything Gagne asked you change your opinion that the DNA on the gray rag was degraded?
Bieber: No.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 11:36 
11:38
11:36 a.m. Hoose asks more detail question about the processing of the DNA on the gray rag.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 11:38 
11:43
11:38 a.m. Hoose done. Gagne on re-cross.
You dont know who collected the sample, dont know the exact history of the specimen. You said you were confident offering an opinion. I'm trying to figure out what you know, what you're basing it on.
Gagnbe done. Hoose on re-re-direct.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 11:43 
11:45
11:42 a.m. Rup won't let Hoose entered a document into evidence but let's him show it to Bieber. It's a chain of custody report. Bieber says the document would refresh his recollection about certain data.
Wednesday March 6, 2013 11:45 
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