Gov. Deval Patrick says he’s waiting for a report from his public safety undersecretary before passing judgment on the states decision to parole a career criminal police say shot and killed a veteran Woburn officer.
Patrick said Monday that he hadn’t watched a tape of 57-year-old Dominic Cinelli’s 2008 parole board hearing and warned against a rush to recriminate. He said the focus should be on Officer John Maguire’s grieving family.
Moments later, House Speaker Robert DeLeo told reporters his initial reaction would be to ban parole for anyone serving multiple life sentences.
The statements were the first public comments by the top Beacon Hill officials on the decision to parole Cinelli despite his long criminal history, including an armed robbery during which a guard was wounded.
Patrick said he was “honestly upset” by what happened, but was waiting for a report from John Grossman, his Undersecretary for the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, on the decision to parole Cinelli before jumping to conclusions.
“I think the thing for me that gets lost in this, and I was thinking about it at the funeral last week, is that we jump immediately to the recriminations and we forget that there’s a human tragedy and a family that has been upended,” Patrick said.
The governor said he hadn’t read up on Cinelli’s history.
“I want to wait for the review and then review what they show me thoroughly and take whatever action is necessary,” he said.
Prosecutors said Cinelli had a lengthy criminal background, including a 1985 heist at a downtown Boston jewelry store during which a security guard was shot and wounded.
In 1986, Cinelli was sentenced to life in prison in Suffolk County and later received two concurrent life sentences for crimes committed in Middlesex County.
In 2008, the parole board voted unanimously to release Cinelli after he testified that he had overcome drug addiction and turned his life around, and expressed his remorse about his crimes.
DeLeo said he wanted answers.
“One of the things that I want really want to find out is how that could happen, that a person with three life sentences could be let out on parole,” DeLeo said. “When I read three life sentences, that just grabbed me. I said, ‘Why are we even having this discussion?’”
DeLeo said he also was bothered that the Middlesex district attorney’s office wasn’t notified about the 2008 hearing.
“If you’re on a parole board, wouldn’t that sort of like be one of the first questions you have? Someone to represent the victim in this case?” he said.
DeLeo said he expects lawmakers to debate possible legislative action as a result of the shooting and that his “gut reaction” would be to prohibit parole for anyone convicted of more than one life sentence.
According to police, Maguire was one of several officers who responded to 911 calls about a robbery at the Kohl’s jewelry counter Dec. 26 in the middle of a snowstorm pummeling the Northeast. Police said Maguire was chasing two suspects on foot when the gunfire started. Maguire was hit four times and was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Police said Cinelli fired the fatal shots.
Police arrested two other men, 19-year-old Scott Hanwright and 51-year-old Kevin Dingwell, both of Wakefield. Hanwright was charged with first-degree murder and Dingwell was charged with being an accessory after the fact. Both have pleaded not guilty.
Republicans say they’ll push for a law designed to ensure maximum prison terms for dangerous repeat offenders.
The bill is named in memory of Melissa Gosule, a 27-year-old teacher who was raped and stabbed on July 11, 1999, by motorist Michael Gentile.
Gentile had been convicted of 27 crimes - including robbery and breaking and entering - but had served a total of just two years when he killed Gosule. He’s now serving a life sentence.
The bill was filed by Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone and Republican state Rep. Brad Hill from Ipswich.
Hill scheduled a Tuesday news conference with Gosule’s father, Les Gosule, to push for passage of the bill, which has yet to be released from the Judiciary Committee.
The Legislature starts its new session on Wednesday when members are sworn in.