A California man convicted of manslaughter in the violent death of a 36-year-old woman a decade ago is set to be released from prison early after partially serving his sentence.
Brian Rainwater was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the gruesome 2005 killing of Jackie Cassettari, who had been sexually assaulted, strangled, and beaten to death. But after serving a decade behind bars, Rainwater will be released in November, having served two-thirds of his sentence.
Time served, good behavior, including studying for college classes behind bars, as well as some of his charges being downgraded to misdemeanors, earned him an early prison departure, a spokesperson for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) said.
“Since he was determinately sentenced, he does not go before a parole board and he is scheduled to be released in early November after serving all the time he is required to serve under the law,” Terry Thornton, deputy press secretary for CDCR told Oxygen.com.
But 14 years after the grisly attack, Rainwater’s release in a matter of months has shocked and angered the murdered woman’s family.
“We did ultimately want him to do life in prison and not be able to be released simply because our cousin Jackie doesn’t get to come home,” Steffanie Cruser, 29, told Oxygen.com. “She doesn’t get to be released from being murdered. She didn’t get to live her life so why should he get to live it?”
Cruser, who lives in Pittsburgh, California, said her cousin had “the biggest smile.” She recalled fond memories of shopping and baking with Cassettari as a teenager.
“She didn’t get to continue her life so, I just feel any amount of time, even life, isn’t enough [for Rainwater],” she added.
Cruser also explained that Rainwater’s early release has startled her family, who are nervous the convicted killer may settle in Tracy, a small city about 60 miles east of San Francisco, where many of the slain woman's relatives live.
“It’s definitely hard for a lot of people in the family,” Cruser added. “[They] would not like to run into him, even once, so it’s hitting pretty hard.”
Former detective Dale Jaynes told Fox 40 that he was also surprised by the light sentence Rainwater was dealt in 2009, particularly given the gory crime scene. When police discovered Cassettari’s body, she had a rope around her neck and had sustained a fractured skull.
“I was very upset to be honest with you,” Jaynes told FOX40. “With the injuries she received, it was unbelievable he was only going to get the sentence he got.”
The now-retired detective said there was so much blood that he had to be careful not to slip.
“The amount of blood that was in that kitchen, you had to watch where you walked, not only because the evidence but just slipping. It was one of the most gruesome scenes I’ve been in,” Jaynes added.
The East Bay Times reported that during Rainwater’s trial, a pathologist testified that Cassettari potentially had a deadly amount of methamphetamines in her system at the time of her death.
But for Cassettari’s family, Rainwater’s perceived light sentence and subsequent early release is nothing less than a miscarriage of justice.
“I think if you take a life, then your life should be taken,” Cruser said. “I believe in an eye for an eye.”
However, Desiree Rainwater, the 48-year-old’s convicted killer’s wife, denied her husband had nothing to do with Cassettari’s death.
“He’s not a violent person and he was an amazing, loving, tender, gentle father,” his wife said, according to Fox 40.
“To bludgeon somebody to death?” she added. “No, that’s not my husband.”
Rainwater was originally arrested in 2005 by police, who suspected Cassettari’s killing was sexually motivated.
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