Parole of man who killed Plainville police officer in 1977 suspended

Published: February 9, 2015 | Last Modified: February 10, 2015 02:39PM
By Ken Liebeskind The Plainville Citizen
The murder of Plainville police officer Robert Holcomb in 1977 is in the news again, after his killer, Gerald Castonguay, was tentatively offered parole.

The parole offer had not been announced to Holcomb's family, prompting a fiery protest that led the state Board of Pardons and Parole to suspend its decision and schedule another hearing.

Maria Weinberger, a niece of Holcomb's who lives in Middletown, said, "It starts with the fact that nobody knew. The state of Connecticut should have let us know, so we called the governor's office and other politicians."

Weinberger said the family learned about the parole "through an anonymous tip to the police department." She said the state had attempted to notify the family by sending a letter to the address of an aunt who died last summer.

Castonguay killed Holcomb, 28, during a robbery attempt in town. Plainville Police Chief Matthew Catania said, "Officer Holcomb was in pursuit of two burglary suspects fleeing the home. Castonguay shot him and then walked over and executed him. He could have just escaped and Robert might have survived." Kim Stimac Giove, another niece of Holcomb's, said, "He shot my uncle once in the arm and then stood over him and fired four shots into his chest at close range. My uncle Bob died shortly after at New Britain General Hospital."

The violent murder of Holcomb is one reason many believe Castonguay should never be pardoned. "It wasn't a crime of passion, it was a very brutal murder," Plainville Town Manager Robert E. Lee said. "And if you kill a police officer there shouldn't be an opportunity to get out of jail, period."

The fact that Castonguay is now 70 isn't reason to allow for a pardon, either, Lee asserted. "If you put a gun in anyone's hand he's dangerous, I don't care how old he is."

Plainville continues to mourn the loss of Holcomb. The town named the road that leads to the high school Robert Holcomb Way and there is a memorial to the fallen officer on the police department's web page.

"When I came to town in 2010, some of the first people I met in the community discussed the impact of that murder, and it's had an impact on the culture of the department," Catania said. "Robert Holcomb was an exemplary human being, a military vet and a fine police officer."
"It affects more than the Holcomb family and the police department," Lee said. "It was a crime against the community."
Castonguay "needs to remain incarcerated and the process needs to be more transparent," Weinberger said.
"There's a serious flaw that a parole can happen with no one's notice." She said, "We're glad pressure was brought on the Board of Parole to suspend their decision. We're going to have the opportunity to speak for ourselves before the board."

We at the Police Association of Connecticut wish to thank the PLAINVILLLE CITIZEN for allowing us to post this article on our website. To all our membership at PAC, if you have an opinion on this case and hearing to take place on March 25th, 2015, please contact the Board of Pardons and Paroles and give them your opinion. Email address is; ct.bpp@ct.gov


National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day in Connecticut....

Please see attached proclamation signed by Governor Malloy supporting CPCA (Connecticut Police Chiefs Association) in declaring January 9, 2015 as National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day in Connecticut.


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