|Chad Austin, being led into court in Newburyport yesterday, is to serve 19-20 years in the Salem case, rather than 30-40 years. (josh reynolds/pool/ASSOCIATED PRESS)|
Sentence reduced for man who took a family hostage
Court backs man who took family hostage in Salem
NEWBURYPORT -- The prison sentence of a man convicted of taking a family hostage in their home following a bank robbery and high-speed chase in 1998 was reduced yesterday after a judge ruled that the defendant had been sentenced under an outdated law.
Judge Nancy Staffier-Holtz reduced Chad Austin's sentence for armed home invasion, kidnapping, and other charges, from 30-40 years to 19-20 years in state prison, First Assistant District Attorney Jack Dawley said.
Austin was arrested in February 1998 after robbing a bank in Portsmouth, N.H., exchanging gunfire with police during a high-speed chase into Massachusetts, and then taking Paul Hardy and Hardy's twin 4-year-old sons hostage at gunpoint in Salem. The four-hour standoff was televised nationally.
Hardy persuaded Austin to release the boys, Kevin and Kyle. Kevin ran to police, but Kyle refused to leave his father. Hardy pushed the boy out of the garage and shut the door, but Kyle tried to pull the door open and then pounded on it before police rushed in to pull him to safety.
Later, Hardy, angered because Austin was sitting in his favorite chair and watching television, lunged at the intruder, and the two wrestled over the gun, which discharged twice. Hardy escaped through a window just before police tossed a concussion grenade into the living room and stormed the house, shooting Austin in the leg. Hardy was unhurt.
Austin, now 33, also was convicted in 1999 of federal bank robbery charges and sentenced to 10 years to be served at the conclusion of his state sentence.
Austin asked a judge in October to be resentenced, arguing that the original sentence was illegal because on the day he was convicted, state law changed, capping the penalty for home invasion at 20 years.
Staffier-Holtz then ruled that Austin would be resentenced on all the state charges. Austin has already served more than eight years in prison.
A message left for his lawyer was not returned.