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Pattern of violence seen in Chicopee slay case

CHICOPEE -- It was a relationship marred by violence and alcohol.

But even after his boyfriend pleaded guilty to beating him up twice, Lawrence Godin stayed in the Chicopee apartment that he and Fernando Ribeiro shared for a decade.

He insisted that Ribeiro get treatment for his alcohol abuse, and last month a judge ordered him to do so after putting him on probation for hitting Godin.

Now, Ribeiro, 45, is charged with murdering Godin and burying his bludgeoned body in the basement. He pleaded not guilty to slaying his 58-year-old lover and was ordered held without bail Friday in Chicopee District Court.

Ribeiro's lawyer, Johnathan Elliott Sr., would not comment on details of the case or the stormy nature of the couple's relationship, but said, ''I don't know any relationship between two people that isn't complex."

Court records show a pattern of abuse and allegations of cruelty between the men during the past few years. In March 2003, police charged Godin with assault and battery after he allegedly attacked Ribeiro. Those charges were later dropped, as were similar ones in November 2004 and in April.

But court records suggest Ribeiro's assaults on Godin were more serious. He pleaded guilty late last month to attacking Godin earlier in June and in May.

When Ribeiro was put on probation three weeks ago, a judge ordered him to undergo mental health treatment and drug and alcohol testing.

''That was at the insistence of the victim, who felt that alcohol was at the root of the problems that they may have been experiencing," Hampden District Attorney William Bennett said Friday.

Police are not sure when Godin was killed and buried. His co-workers at Springfield Shopping Plaza, where Godin was a maintenance worker, said they had not heard from him since he called in July 3 to say he would be out on the Fourth of July.

A neighbor told police last week that she hadn't seen Godin for about a week. And the couple's mail carrier, who said Godin confided to him that he feared for his life because of Ribeiro's temper, said he saw Godin sometime last week, according to a police report.

Police started searching for Godin on Tuesday after Ribeiro went to the Chicopee Police Department with relatives and said, ''I think someone's dead, and I might have something to do with it," the police report says.

After a cadaver-sniffing dog indicated Wednesday that a body might be close to the house, police received a search warrant and searched the building the next day.

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