More too-little, too-late justice for Daniel Tavares

The News Tribune The News Tribune The News TribuneSeptember 11, 2013 

Graham Bodies

TAVARES: Convicted in 2007 double murder

AP

In Massachusetts, the wheels of justice grind more slowly than tectonic plates – way too slowly to save the lives of Graham newlyweds Brian and Beverly Mauck.

The Maucks were gunned down in their home in 2007 by Daniel Tavares, 47, a Massachusetts murderer who’d flown to Washington after butterfingered prosecutors failed to prevent his release from prison.

Tavares was convicted of the Graham murders in 2008 and sentenced to life in prison in this state. Washington has now shipped him back to his home state to face a cold case charge of murdering Gayle Botelho, a mother of three young children.

The Botelho case is especially frustrating in light of what later happened to the Maucks. She disappeared in 1988 while living across the street from Tavares, which made him a suspect from the start. Twelve years later – in prison for killing his mother – he told police exactly where to find Botelho’s body: in a shallow grave in what had been his backyard.

Like Tavares’ mother, Botelho had been stabbed to death. But he told detectives a story of a wild party in which two other men had killed her. A woman had provided Tavares with an alibi, and police set out on wild goose chases looking for the other men.

Last year, the woman reportedly recanted the alibi. Her change of heart comes a little late for the Maucks, who might never had died had she stepped forward prior to his release.

She must have been one persuasive woman. By 2000, Tavares was a convicted woman-stabber, and a second woman had been stabbed to death and buried – with his admitted knowledge – behind the house where he’d lived. What are the chances? Other killers have been sent away for less.

This looks like one more lost opportunity to protect the innocent from a clearly depraved man.

Lest we forget, Tavares would never have wound up in Washington in 2007 but for a series of almost unbelievable blunders in the Worcester, Mass., district attorney’s office.

In prison, he had repeatedly assaulted guards – felonies that could have put him away for 10 more years. Prison officials had documented the violence, but the DA’s office sat on the charges until Tavares was nearly out.

Tavares had a bail hearing at that point to determine his flight risk. At the hearing, the prosecutor didn’t tell the judge about Tavares’ violent prison record, the pending charges, his talk of going to Washington to join a girlfriend, or even that he’d killed his own mother.

Once the DA’s office figured out where Tavares had gone, it showed remarkably little interest in getting him back. Prosecutors took their own sweet time issuing an arrest warrant – and the one they issued was good only in New England, not Washington.

With prosecutors like that, who needs defense attorneys? The authorities in Massachusetts seem likely to make the new murder charge stick and give Tavares a redundant prison sentence. That will bring little consolation to the Maucks’ bereaved survivors, and the Maucks themselves are beyond consolation.

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