WOBURN — Before a courtroom filled with grim-faced police officers and tearful relatives, a 23-year-old pleaded guilty Wednesday to second-degree murder in the death of John Maguire, a Woburn police officer who was gunned down by a paroled career criminal during an armed robbery in December 2010.
Scott Hanright, who was initially charged with first-degree murder in the shooting, was sentenced to life in prison for serving as the lookout during the attempted jewelry heist. He will be eligible for parole in 25 years.
Hanright was involved in the “planning and execution of the robbery” and bore responsibility for Maguire’s death, said Marian Ryan, the Middlesex district attorney. Ryan said the plea agreement was a “fair and just resolution” in keeping with the Maguire family’s wishes that he admit his role in the shooting.
“He knew there would be a gun involved and that jewelry would be taken,” she said. “This was an assault on our very justice system,” she said of Maguire’s killing.
Maguire was the first Woburn officer to die in the line of duty.
Hanright, who was 19 at the time and living in Wakefield, was unarmed and was not directly involved in the gunfight that killed Maguire, a 60-year-old father of three. The officer was killed by Dominic Cinelli during the robbery at Kohl’s in a heavy snowstorm. Cinelli was on parole at the time after receiving a life sentence for fatally shooting a security guard during an armed robbery.
While trying to escape, Cinelli opened fire on Maguire, one of the first officers on the scene. Despite his injuries, Maguire returned fire and killed Cinelli.
“Dominic Cinelli had already indicated it was not his intention to go back to jail,” Ryan said.
She said the sentence reflected “the enormity of the loss of Officer Maguire” and the severity of the crime. She said she hoped it would provide some “closure and resolution” for Maguire’s family.
Hanright, who had no previous criminal record, was introduced by his grandmother to Cinelli.
In an impact statement read by Ryan in court, Maguire’s widow, Desiree, said the years since her husband’s death have been filled with “endless emotional turmoil.”
“The initial shock of Jack’s murder left me numb, confused, and sleepless,” she wrote. “Anger and sorrow set in as the certainty and extent of his absence crept into my daily routine with a realization that all that was once ordinary, never would be again.”
Desiree Maguire was on the phone with her husband when the robbery call came across the radio. He rushed off the call just before she told him to be careful and she loved him. The next phone call she received was from the Woburn Police Department, with the news that he had been killed.
Maguire died the day after Christmas, and his death forever changed her feelings about the holidays, she wrote.
“What used to be a favorite time of year now stirs up anxiety, sorrow, and restlessness as I relive those horrible days,’’ she wrote. “The void in my life without him is immeasurable.”
Woburn police Officer Glenn Grammer, one of the first officers to arrive at the scene, wrote that Hanright’s actions “changed my life and the lives of my family forever.”
“The fact that Scott Hanright spent time plotting this robbery . . . shows his outrageous disregard for human life,” Grammer wrote.
Before Maguire’s death, Grammer was a happy and proud new father, he wrote. But after that night, “I didn’t see life like that anymore,” he wrote.
“The horror of seeing Jack bleeding out in the middle of Washington Street is one that will never go away,” he wrote. “There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of that night.”
Robert Ferullo, the Woburn police chief, said he hoped the plea “will minimize additional pain for Jack’s family.”
Maguire’s shooting sparked widespread criticism of Cinelli’s parole and led then-Governor Deval Patrick to overhaul the state’s parole board and tighten parole eligibility for violent, repeat offenders.
Cinelli’s brother, Arthur, is awaiting trial on charges that he helped plan the robbery. Kevin Dingwell, the alleged driver of the getaway car, is also facing trial.
The plea agreement ends a lengthy legal saga. In 2013, the state’s highest court ruled that Hanright could be charged with first-degree murder under three legal theories and that prosecutors had enough evidence to try him on 22 charges.