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Nashua man expected to plead guilty in EMT’s murder

Union Leader Correspondent

July 24. 2013 2:17PM

NASHUA — The mother of Paul Frontiero III, an EMT who was stabbed to death two years ago, says she is incredibly relieved that she won’t have to sit through a lengthy murder trial next month.

Matthew Packer of Nashua, who is accused of killing her son during an altercation Oct. 9, 2011, on Spruce Street, is expected to avoid an upcoming trial and instead plead guilty on Friday. It wasn’t immediately known to what charge Packer will plead.

“We are relieved that he is going to be put away and can’t do this to another family,” Cathy Frontiero of Gloucester, Mass., said Wednesday when contacted by the New Hampshire Union Leader. “Whatever happens, my son is not coming back.”

Although she did confirm that a plea is anticipated Friday at Hillsborough County Superior Court, Cathy Frontiero declined to provide specifics about what charge or what sentence is being proposed.

Packer, 21, was indicted on various charges for the attack, including first-degree murder, two alternative counts of second-degree murder, first-degree assault, second-degree assault and attempted murder.

“I am so glad that we don’t have to sit through three weeks of listening to every gory detail come out,” she said of the trial that was initially scheduled for Aug. 20. “We already know what the outcome is. Obviously, he is a troubled young man.”

Cathy Frontiero said she didn’t know what to expect from the lengthy court process, saying she and her family are not familiar with the court system, its delays and negotiated pleas.

She and her husband, Paul Frontiero Jr., will be in attendance for Friday’s court hearing and also plan to speak at Packer’s subsequent sentencing hearing.

“We are just handling this one day at a time,” added the grieving mother.

Peter Hinckley of the N.H. Attorney General’s Office would not comment on a possible plea deal, but he did confirm there is a hearing scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday regarding the case.

Packer previously told authorities that he took out a six-inch pocket knife during the night of Frontiero’s death in the fall of 2011, but only after being punched in the ear by strangers. During a previous court hearing, the lead detective in the murder case told a judge that Frontiero died after being stabbed 16 times, including one puncture to the heart.

Other vital organs, including Frontiero’s lung, left kidney, diaphragm and spleen, were damaged from the knife wounds, according to Detective Daniel Mederos.

Frontiero was reportedly trying to protect two females when the stabbing took place. Jill Arnold and Kathryn Libby, both of Nashua, were injured in the attack but survived. Frontiero, who paid the ultimate sacrifice for saving the two women, was previously presented with a posthumous Union Leader Hero Award for his courageous actions that night.

“My son saw somebody in need and stepped in. It doesn’t surprise me at all that he tried to intervene,” Cathy Frontiero said earlier. “He died a hero. It might have been two deaths instead of one if it wasn’t for his help.”

Previously, Packer’s defense team filed a notice of defense claiming Packer was legally insane during the stabbing and had planned on introducing evidence that Packer was suffering post-traumatic stress disorder at the time of the attack, according to court documents.

Frontiero worked for EasCare Ambulance Service out of Dorchester, Mass., and was training to become a paramedic.

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