BOSTON — The 17-year-old Townsend resident who murdered a nursery-school teacher and her two children will have a resentencing hearing next week, according to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office.
Daniel LaPlante, who was convicted in the 1987 triple murder, will have a resentencing hearing because the state’s highest court ruled a few years ago that juveniles cannot be sentenced to life in prison without parole.
The resentencing hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, March 22, at 9 a.m., in Middlesex Superior Court.
Lowell Superior Court Judge Robert Barton held court over this high-profile case in the late-1980s.
“A horrible case,” Barton recalled on Wednesday. “If I had the authority, I would have given him the death penalty.
“He may have been 17 at the time, but out of the 150 murders I tried in my 22 years in Superior Court, it was the very worst… most horrible case I ever sat on,” he added.
LaPlante was convicted of first-degree murder in the Dec. 1, 1987, rape and murder of Priscilla Gustafson, 33, and her two young children — Abigail, 7, and William, 5 — in their Townsend home.
Police found Gustafson, a nursery-school teacher, in a bedroom with a pillow placed over her head to muffle the sound of the gunshots when LaPlante shot her. Police found Abigail and William drowned in separate bathtubs in the house.
Patricia’s husband, Andrew Gustafson, died in 2014.
Former state Attorney General Tom Reilly was the assistant district attorney who prosecuted LaPlante. Like Barton, Reilly said that LaPlante’s case stands out from the rest.
“I think it’s extremely important that he is never, ever released from custody,” Reilly said.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s evil, and if he’s ever released, he will kill again,” the former AG added. “You can’t cure evil. There is no program, no rehabilitation for that.”
LaPlante is currently being held at the Massachusetts Treatment Center in Bridgewater.
For more on this story, visit www.nashobavalleyvoice.com.
Follow Rick Sobey on Twitter and Tout @rsobeyLSun.