Les Gosule lost a daughter. Nearly 12 years later, Chuck Maguire lost a brother.
On Wednesday afternoon, both men told legislators on the Joint Committee of the Judiciary that their loved ones would still be alive today if the state would hav had a tougher habitual offender bill in place.
“How many passes does the victim get? Zero,” Gosule told lawmakers at the public hearing at the statehouse.
Maguire said the “cycle of news will not pass (on this issue), this will stay forever.”
Both men were advocating for Melissa’s Bill, which proponents say strengthens the laws regarding repeat offenders.
Gosule is the father of the late Melissa Gosule, for whom the bill is named. Melissa was a 27-year-old teacher in Randolph when she was kidnapped, raped and murdered in July 1999 by Michael Gentile, of Halifax. Gentile was a parolee who had 27 entries on his criminal record.
Gosule, along with his family, has been pushing for stronger legislation since his daughter’s death. He testified with his family, Melissa’s mother and sister, on Wednesday.
Maguire is the brother of the late Woburn Police Officer John “Jack” Maguire, a Wilmington native who was shot and killed in the line of duty by Dominic Cinelli in December. Cinelli, who was shot and killed by police during the armed robbery attempt at Kohl’s, was also a parolee and career criminal, who had been serving three life sentences.
Maguire testified with Woburn Police Chief Philip Mahoney, city Mayor Scott Galvin and state Rep. Jim Dwyer (D-Woburn), who co-filed the bill.
Mahoney and Galvin told the committee that they support the bill and Dwyer’s efforts.
“Do the right thing,” Mahoney told lawmakers at the hearing.
Dwyer called the late Maguire a “cop’s cop” and said he literally put himself between the armed robbers and a neighborhood of innocent civilians. He also urged the committee to pass the bill on to the state House and Senate.
“We as a commonwealth need to start viewing parole as a privilege, not a right,” he said.
With Maguire’s recent death drawing attention to the bill, more than 100 people, including about 20 Massachusetts police chiefs and most area media outlets, packed into the hearing room.
Gosule asked the committee not to wait any longer.
“I deplore, I beg, I beg that we have a bill come out of this committee,” he said in an emotional plea.
Melissa’s Bill’s main points (via the Middlesex District Attorney’s office):
- Mandates that after a defendant is convicted of a felony in three separate incidents, then he or she will be punished by the maximum sentence as specified by the Legislature for that third crime.
- The bill also is limited to defendants who have committed more serious felony crimes, targeting the worst of the worst offenders.
- The bill assures greater fairness because the statute will no longer be triggered solely by the specific sentence imposed by a judge on the prior offense, but rather by the crime that was committed.
- The bill furthers truth in sentencing and recidivist accountability by closing the current loophole that allows for “package deals.” This is the practice in which a defendant who commits new crimes when he or she has other pending charges is able to combine the crimes together and receive concurrent sentences.