|Daniel Thomas Tavares Jr. has pleaded not guilty.|
TACOMA - A convicted Massachusetts killer now accused of slaying his neighbors told police he shot them after the man insulted him when he tried to collect a $50 debt, court documents said.
Daniel Thomas Tavares Jr., 41, was charged yesterday with two counts of aggravated first-degree murder, a charge that carries a penalty of death or life in prison without parole.
He pleaded not guilty and was ordered held without bail. The Pierce County prosecutor has 30 days to decide whether to seek the death penalty against Tavares.
Investigators say Tavares fatally shot Brian Mauck, 30, and Beverly Mauck, 28, who had recently bought a home in Graham, about 40 miles south of Seattle.
The Maucks were found dead Saturday morning in the living room of their home, with three close-range gunshot wounds to each of their heads, court papers said.
Tavares's wife, Jennifer Lynn Tavares, 37, was charged yesterday with rendering criminal assistance, a gross misdemeanor. She also pleaded not guilty and posted $5,000 bail.
Officials say the Tavareses met through a prison pen pals website.
A pretrial hearing for the couple has been set for Dec. 6., when the prosecutor will ask for a delay in the trial date, which initially was set for January, said Deputy Prosecutor Gerald T. Costello.
Daniel Tavares, who was released from prison this summer, also is charged with one count of unlawful possession of a firearm. He was forbidden to have a gun as a condition of his parole. He served 16 years in Massachusetts for manslaughter in the 1991 stabbing death of his mother.
Investigators said they linked Daniel Tavares to the Maucks's slayings through shoe impressions found in blood on the floor of the living room and a bloody palm print found on a door jamb in a bedroom.
Daniel Tavares initially told investigators he heard gunshots while he was in bed with his wife at their home. He also described two men and a red truck he said he saw outside. "These various statements were later acknowledged to be lies," Costello said in the charging papers.
Jennifer Tavares initially told police she was having sex with her husband at 7 a.m. when she heard shots fired. She later said that was a lie she told trying to provide an alibi for her husband, Costello said.
Daniel Tavares told police he went to the Maucks' house to collect a $50 debt, but Brian Mauck insulted him and "after spending 20 years in prison" he was not going to put up with being called an insulting name, court papers said.
Tavares pulled out a gun and shot Brian Mauck in the back of his head and then stopped Beverly Mauck from running out of the house and shot her in the back of the head, investigators said.
He dragged her body to where her husband was lying, placed her body over his, and covered them both with a blanket because "he respected them," court papers said.
Investigators said Jennifer Tavares had obtained a .22-caliber gun from a family member for self protection before Daniel Tavares moved in with her. Later, she was asked to return the gun and said she did not know what had become of it. Daniel Tavares said they threw the gun off a cliff.