Police officer’s murderer will remain behind bars

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SUFFIELD -- A man serving time for the killing of a Plainville police officer in 1977 has had his parole rescinded.

On Wednesday, the Connecticut parole board reversed their recent decision to allow convicted murderer, Gary Castonguay, 70, to go free.

Robert Holcomb

Robert Holcomb

The new hearing came after family members of Officer Robert Holcomb spoke out against procedures at Castonguay’s prior parole hearing which took place in January. Family of the victim said they were not alerted to the hearing. They also said they were not informed that the Board of Pardons and Paroles voted to free Castonguay in July.

“There is an entire record, 13 banker's boxes of information on this criminal and the fact that it took all of 17 minutes to hear his completely fabricated version of events is just unacceptable,” Holcomb’s niece and family spokesperson Maria Weinberger said.hearing

The executive director of the Board of Pardons and Paroles said they tried reaching out to relatives but those listed as contacts had died and others could not be reached.

Robert Holcomb’s son, Mac Holcomb, who was only three when his father died testified at Wednesday’s hearing.

“The actions of Mr. Castonguay on that night in 1977, just one month prior to my fourth birthday, not only took my father`s life but forever deprived me of growing up knowing my dad,” Holcomb said.

Other family members also made statements.

"The force of the first shot that the inmate fired was close enough that Bobby fell to the ground. The inmate could have walked away but your choice was to stand over Bobby and fire 3 more shots,” Holcomb’s niece Kim Barber said.

The family was joined by a large police presence including officers from Plainville, Suffield, Wethersfield, New Britain, and Hartford. After the hearing, an officer played the bagpipes as Holcomb’s family exited the correctional facility.

Republican state Sen. Henri Martin, who represents Plainville, released a statement Wednesday calling for reforms of the parole system after the Holcomb’s experience.

State officials righted a wrong today.  Throughout this ordeal, the Holcomb family has displayed a tremendous amount of strength and perseverance.  I commend the people of Plainville and throughout the state for speaking out on behalf of the Holcombs and rallying to support them.  Now that this botched decision has been corrected and this vicious killer will remain in prison, we must now review the circumstances which led us to this day.  We must take steps to strengthen the system so that what happened to the Holcombs does not happen to other victims’ families in the future.  I look forward to leading that effort.