By Marjorie Nesin
---- — The man who admitted to killing a 27-year-old Gloucester man in an October 2011 stabbing in Nashua, N.H., will face from 30 years to life in prison, after pleading guilty as part of a plea deal Friday in the killing of Paul Frontiero III.
Frontiero’s father, Paul Frontiero Jr., said Friday that he hopes Judge Diane Nicolosi, presiding over the case, will protect the public by putting now 21-year-old Matthew Packer behind bars for life.
“I just can’t understand how someone who had no idea who these people were who he was attacking did what he’s done. He stabbed my son 16 times,” Frontiero said. “It’s just unbelievable and unthinkable.”
In pleading guilty Friday to “knowing second-degree” murder, under New Hampshire law, Packer admitted to stabbing Frontiero outside his then Nashua home and inflicting wounds to both his heart and his lungs after Frontiero stepped in to defend his two female roommates whom Packer had assaulted. Packer plead guilty to two charges of assault against the women in court Friday, too.
A prosecutor read a detailed summary of the gruesome events that led up to Frontiero’s death in court before Packer, initially charged with first-degree murder, entered his pleas. Frontiero’s family, until those moments, had spared themselves some of the more painful details of the case.
“We knew an overview of what was going on, we didn’t know how it actually went down, but now we do,” Frontiero said.
Frontiero remembers his son, who was 27 at the time of his death, as a generous man. The younger Frontiero had been preparing to head to bed to get some sleep before an early morning of work at his EMT job in the rough Boston neighborhood of Dorchester, when he interrupted the assault on his female roommates.
With each career, Frontiero was employed in through his twenties, he had found ways to help others with his work. As an employee at Best Buy, he had assisted family members in buying televisions at a discount and installing their electronics. Later, while working as a plumber, he repaired plumbing at his brother-in-law’s home.
“He did a lot of good things for people,” his father said Friday.
After Frontiero’s death, the community reached out to his family, some recalling the young man’s good deeds. The family’s priest, Father Ronald Gariboldi, and fellow bloggers at GoodMorningGloucester — Joey Ciaramitaro and Ejay Khan — supported the devastated family.
“All the support we received when this first happened was a really big help to us,” Frontiero said. “The whole family, especially his brothers, have stepped up and helped a lot.”
The family plans to attend Packer’s final court date, the hearing where the judge will hand down Packer’s sentence on Aug. 21. The plea deal Packer accepted could send him to prison for 60 years to life. Packer’s lawyers will push for a 30 years to life sentence at the hearing next month.
Packer had previously indicated he might use an insanity defense. Packer’s attorney, public defender Julia Nye, told Judge Diane Nicolosi she would call an expert witness to the stand during the sentencing hearing to talk about the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Frontiero’s mother, Cathy Frontiero, read a short prepared statement following Friday’s hearing.
“It’s been a nightmare that we’re reliving all over again, but we’re relieved that Matt Packer will be behind bars and he can do to no other family what he has done to ours,” she said. “He’s obviously a very troubled young man.”
Joseph G. Cote, staff writer for the Telegraph of Nashua New Hampshire contributed to this story.
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.