PLAINVILLE - Convicted cop killer Gary Castonguay will spend at least another five years behind bars.
The 76-year-old was the subject of an administrative review on Wednesday, when the Board of Pardons and Paroles denied him a parole hearing. The reason for the denial was “no compelling evidence of change to merit a full hearing.” Castonguay will be reviewed again in five years to determine if he will have a parole hearing.
Castonguay gunned down Plainville Police Officer Robert Holcomb during an execution-style murder. He was convicted after two trials of killing the 28-year-old officer on Nov. 21, 1977, when Holcomb interrupted a Hollyberry Lane burglary.
Castonguay, who was 33 at the time and resided in Bristol, fled the scene and shot Holcomb in the shoulder in a nearby wooded area as the officer pursued him. After Holcomb fell to the ground, Castonguay, standing over him at point-blank range, fired several shots into the officer’s chest, killing him.
Holcomb, who had served two tours in Vietnam as a marine before joining the Plainville Police Department, left behind a wife and 4-year-old son.
In January 2015, during a hearing that lasted 17 minutes, Castonguay was granted parole. Holcomb’s family had not been made aware of the hearing, and when news of the cop killer’s parole went public, the slain officer’s family launched a public protest of the decision. The decision was later reversed about two months later at another hearing, before Castonguay could be released.
About 20 police officers from various departments around the state attended the hearing in support of Holcomb’s family. Another 50 or so gathered outside the proceedings.
While Holcomb’s family had a better experience with the parole process this time around, some issues in the system still seemed to linger.
“This decision was good for our family, but it easily could have gone the other way,” said Maria Weinberger, Holcomb’s niece. “We were thrilled.”
“This time the victim services advocate was great,” she continued.
Weinberger, however, said she had a difficult time getting basic information about the parole policies, something she said should be easily accessible on the state’s website. The “lack of information” led her to question whether or not her family would have been notified before the administrative review, had she not been calling and calling in the months leading up to the review.
“You can’t do things in secret,” Weinberger said, adding that she was given notice, after the review, of the board’s decision. She also had a hard time finding out exactly what information was being looked at and taken into consideration during the review.
“I just don’t think you should have to fight for that information,” Weinberger said. “I’m not upset with the Office of Victim Services. I’m pointing the finger at the Board of Pardons and Paroles.”
Plainville Police Chief Matthew Catania said he believes the right decision was made in keeping Castonguay - who, before killing Holcomb, had twice been charged with shooting up a Bristol police officer’s home - behind bars.
“This is the way I had foreseen it,” Catania said. “I think it’s the right decision. He belongs in jail.”
Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or firstname.lastname@example.org.