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Published: 03/26/2007
Murder victim's family gets help from Hill with sentencing bill
By Steve Landwehr
Staff writer

IPSWICH - In the summer of 1999, Leslie Gosule's 27-year-old daughter, Melissa, was raped and then stabbed to death on Cape Cod.
Her car had broken down, and after being told that AAA couldn't respond for three to four hours, Melissa accepted an offer of help from a stranger who approached her in the parking lot. She stepped into Michael Gentile's car and was never seen alive again. Her body was found in a shallow grave eight days later.
Gentile, who had a long criminal history of violent assaults, was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Since Melissa's death, her family has been lobbying for tougher sentences for repeat offenders, in the belief that it would have kept Gentile behind bars - so he never would have encountered Melissa. But they've gotten nowhere.
Now they've turned to a friend, Jody Tozier of Ipswich, who used to work at the Boston law firm where Leslie Gosule was the accountant. And Tozier has enlisted the help of her new boss, state Rep. Brad Hill.
After meeting with the family for an hour, the Ipswich Republican agreed to file another bill on their behalf.
"When you sit in a room with the family, you relive the whole scenario," Hill said. "They're one of many families who have gone through this."
The Gosules do not live in Hill's district, but legislators can file bills for any citizen of the commonwealth. House Bill 972 is what is sometimes referred to as a "three-strikes-and-you're-out law." Criminals convicted of three violent felonies would automatically be given a life sentence, without possibility of parole, for the third offense.
"This is something (Leslie Gosule) has been working on since it happened to his daughter," Tozier said. "He's one of those people who can take something bad that's happened to them and make it a positive."
Gosule said the bill Hill filed isn't that much different than earlier iterations, but the family hopes keeping the issue in the spotlight will build enough momentum so it will finally be passed. To help accomplish that, there will be a rally at Nurse's Hall at the Statehouse at 11 a.m. Friday in support of the legislation. Hill will speak, along with several other legislators and Leslie and Melissa Gosule's sister, Heidi Lyn Gosule.
Some lawmakers feel the bill robs judges of their discretion when sentencing, which has stalled the legislation in the past.

On the other hand, Gentile had more than 30 convictions at the time he murdered Melissa, Leslie Gosule said. The last charge was for breaking and entering, and Gentile was sentenced to one year in jail and fours years' probation.
"If he had been in jail for five years," Gosule said, "my daughter would be alive."
Staff writer Steve Landwehr can be reached at 978-338-2660 or by e-mail at [email protected].
 
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