Tavares won't get the death penalty

Deal reached for life sentence

Email|Print| Text size + By Shelley Murphy
Globe Staff / February 14, 2008

His own father wanted him put to death, calling him "pure evil." But Daniel J. Tavares Jr. has reached a plea deal with prosecutors in Washington State that will allow him to avoid the death penalty.

A prosecutor announced at a press conference yesterday that Tavares, 41, a convicted killer who jumped bail in Massachusetts and traveled to Washington where he killed a young couple, will plead guilty to the two murders and waive his right to appeal, in exchange for a sentence of life in prison.

Pierce County prosecutor Gerald Horne said the families of the victims, Brian and Beverly Mauck, plan to push for legislation that would require law enforcement officials to alert their counterparts in other states whenever a "dangerously violent person" leaves their jurisdiction.

Beverly Mauck's mother, Karen Slater, said the families are still investigating the breakdown in Massachusetts that allowed Tavares to be set loose on an unsuspecting public in Washington, without notification to his new neighbors or the local police.

"This never would have happened if Beverly and Brian were notified that this crazy person was living in their neighborhood," Slater said.

"I think they would not have befriended him, as they befriended everyone, if they knew he had killed his mother."

Tavares had been convicted of manslaughter for hacking his mother to death with a carving knife in her Somerset home in 1991. He wrapped up his 17 to 20-year sentence in June and was about to be released when he was charged with assaulting two correction officers.

A Massachusetts judge released him on personal recognizance on the assault charges in July, even though he had threatened to kill his father, Governor Mitt Romney, and other public officials while in prison.

Three days later, Tavares fled to Washington to marry a woman he met through an online dating service while in prison.

Massachusetts State Police discovered Tavares was in Washington and sought a nationwide warrant for his arrest, but the Worcester district attorney's office refused to issue it.

State officials also disclosed recently that Tavares should have been incarcerated for another two years, but as a result of a bureaucratic foulup at the Department of Correction was credited with so-called good time he didn't deserve, leading to his premature release.

A Washington state trooper, acting on a request from Massachusetts police, conducted surveillance outside the trailer in Graham, Wash., where Tavares was living in early October.

But he never spotted Tavares and did not pursue the tip further because Massachusetts had not issued the nationwide warrant. The local sheriff's office said they were not told about Tavares.

On Nov. 17, Tavares kicked in the front door of his neighbors' home, shooting the Maucks to death, according to prosecutors. Brian Mauck, 30, and his wife, Beverly, 28, had been married in 2006 and traveled the world on scuba diving trips.

Lawyers for Tavares didn't return calls from the Globe yesterday.

The families of the Maucks huddled together at the press conference, which was broadcast live on KING5, a Seattle TV station, each wearing a white T-shirt emblazoned with a photograph of the smiling young couple.

Brian Mauck's sister, Jennifer Heilbrun, said she was elated by the prosecutor's decision to send Tavares to prison for life.

"Sitting in a jail cell to rot with your own demons, that's justice to me," Heilbrun said. "I don't know that slipping off to sleep and never having to deal with the things you've done to people is justice."

Slater also said she supported the deal, adding, "I want him to suffer until he dies."

Horne said he reached the plea agreement after consulting with the victims' families and considering how few people who are sentenced to death are actually executed and how long it takes for the cases to wind through the system.

Horne said that the slayings appeared to have been "impulsive, without any serious planning or sophistication" and that Tavares had confessed and accepted responsibility.

Tavares offered different accounts of why he killed the Maucks, including an assertion that Brian Mauck owed him $50 for a tattoo he had given the young man. "Tavares has given differing accounts of what led up to these murders and why," said Gerald Costello, Pierce County's chief criminal deputy prosecutor, adding that the motive remains unclear.

During a telephone interview yesterday from his Florida home, Daniel Tavares Sr. said he believed that his son should have been executed.

"I just believe that there's evil in some people, and it's too bad that there's evil in my son," the elder Tavares said.

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