Quincy dad ‘grateful’ as Senate passes three-strike bill for violent felons
BOSTON — Criminals convicted of a third violent crime would be denied parole under a bill unanimously approved by the Senate on Thursday.
The Quincy man who has been fighting for such a law since his 27-year-old daughter was murdered by a habitual offender in 1999 was at the State House to see the vote.
Les Gosule of Quincy, father of murder victim Melissa Gosule, and Chuck Maguire, brother of Jack Maguire, a Woburn police officer shot last December by a habitual offender, were present for the Senate debate. They issued a joint statement Thursday morning urging the Senate to move the bill forward.
Melissa Gosule, a Boston teacher and Randolph native, was kidnapped, raped and murdered in 1999 after she accepted a ride from a passer-by after her car broke down in Bourne. Her killer, Michael Gentile of Halifax, had a record of 22 arrests.
“The members of our family suffered a terrible tragedy. It took me and my family 12 years to get here,” Les Gosule said after the vote. “I am so grateful today. I hope the House does the right thing next week and this brings the bill to the governor’s office.”
Dominic Cinelli, Maguire’s killer, had been paroled despite convictions that led to three concurrent life sentences.
“Had these changes been seen earlier, Dominic Cinelli wouldn’t have been out on the street,” said Sen. Robert Hedlund, R-Weymouth.
The list of crimes that would trigger the three-strikes rule covers more than 60 offenses, including armed robbery, murder, manslaughter, rape, kidnapping, mayhem, arson, unlawful possession of an assault weapon and assault and battery causing serious bodily injury.
The bill balances the tough-on-violent-crime attitude with an easing of some mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders, lawmakers said.
Opponents, including prisoner-rights groups and the Massachusetts Bar Association, said the three-strike rule would increase prison crowding and state costs.
Some local senators were opposed to reducing mandatory minimums for certain drug crimes. Hedlund said he had opposed weakening those provisions.
Sen. John F. Keenan, D-Quincy, filed amendments that would have maintained stricter sentencing for high-level drug offenders.
‘‘If they’re not dealing drugs but using, results are better if they get treatment,” he said after the vote. “If they’re dealing, I believe they should be incarcerated for a longer period of time than what has been agreed upon.”
The bill now goes to the House.
Material from the State House News Service was used in this story.