Parole board changes mind, won't free cop killer amid outcry

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Posted: Mar 25, 2015 10:34 AM
Parole board changes mind, won't free cop killer amid outcry

SUFFIELD, Conn. (AP) — A parole board that ruled a man who killed a police officer in 1977 could go free rescinded that decision Wednesday after an outcry from the victim's family and prosecutors.

The inmate, Gary Castonguay, is serving a sentence of 25 years to life in prison for the shooting of Plainville police Officer Robert Holcomb during a burglary.

Holcomb's niece Maria Weinberger said at the hearing at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution that Castonguay had destroyed his victim's family.

"Castonguay should remain incarcerated for the remainder of his natural existence," she said.

Weinberger said Holcomb's widow, Nancy, was too distressed by the prospect of coming face to face with her husband's killer to attend the hearing herself.

At the hearing attended by dozens of police officers from around Connecticut, a panel of the Board of Pardons and Paroles voted 3-0, without any discussion, to reverse the decision made in January.

Asked if he had anything to say at the hearing, Castonguay said: "I guess not."

The hearing was scheduled after Holcomb's family and prosecutors said they were not aware of the meeting in January when board members voted to release Castonguay. Holcomb's relatives and prosecutors said the earlier decision was made with inadequate information about Castonguay's background, including other violent incidents and threats directed at law enforcement. Parole board officials contend that they did have that information.

Holcomb, 28, had been a Plainville police officer for five years and was married with a 3-year-old son when he was killed.

As Holcomb chased Castonguay after a home burglary, police said, Castonguay's first gunshot knocked him down, then Castonguay shot him three times in the chest at close range.