As they held hands under the table, the mother and widow of a Weymouth Police Sgt. who died in the line of duty sat before the Legislature, pleading with them to pass a bill to institute the death penalty for cop killers.
“If anybody sitting here in this room — no matter who you are, no matter what you’re involved with — thinks it’s never going to happen to you, God bless you, because I never thought it would happen to me,” Maryann “Mimi” Chesna told the committee. “We’re now under a total cloud of grief every day. We don’t know where to go, we don’t know what to do, we don’t know where to look because we’re still looking for Mike.”
Weymouth Sgt. Michael Chesna, 42, was a married father of two and an Army veteran. He was killed in Weymouth with his own gun while investigating a report of an erratic driver in July 2018. His widow, Cynthia Chesna, sat beside her mother-in-law as tears streamed down her face Tuesday, in silent support of a bill that would allow juries to choose the death penalty for anyone over the age of 18 who is convicted of killing a cop.
“The poor woman couldn’t even talk, even though she wanted to. She suffers every single day at the loss of her husband and the father of her children,” Rep. Shauna O’Connell told the Herald. “Families like that need closure and they need to know that justice will be served in these cases, where their loved ones are murdered in cold blood.”
As Chesna was nearing the end of his night shift on the morning of July 15, 2018, he was knocked unconscious by a rock hurled at his head by Emanuel Lopes. He allegedly then grabbed Chesna’s gun, shot and killed the officer, then shot and killed 77-year-old Vera Adams in her home. Lopes is still awaiting trial on two murder charges.
O’Connell (R-Taunton), the Chesna women and Rep. David DeCoste (R-Norwell) sat together before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary at the State House Tuesday, urging lawmakers to report out the bill favorably.
“The justice system seems to me to be broken, not bent. There is no consequence,” Maryann Chesna said. “The world lost a great guy in my son. He was a great brother, son, husband, father, friend, soldier. He gave a lot to this commonwealth and he still had a lot to give.”
The Chesna family are constituents of DeCoste, who has long been a proponent of instituting the death penalty in Massachusetts.
“I don’t believe the authors of our constitution ever intended for us to be limited in terms of what we can apply the death penalty to — certainly not to protect law enforcement officers,” DeCoste said. “This bill is written specifically to protect not only the police at the state level, but the local level.”
The state representatives were prompted to act by the deaths of Chesna, Yarmouth Sgt. Sean Gannon and Auburn police officer Ronald Tarentino, who were all shot and killed in the line of duty in recent years. Both Gannon’s and Chesna’s names were added to the Massachusetts Law Enforcement Memorial outside the State House about two weeks ago.