Daniel Tavares Jr. pleaded guilty in Pierce County Superior Court this morning to two counts of aggravated first-degree murder for killing a Graham couple and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
TACOMA — Daniel Tavares Jr. pleaded guilty in Pierce County Superior Court this morning to two counts of aggravated first-degree murder for killing a Graham couple and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Tavares, 41, agreed to plead guilty to the charges against him in exchange for the Pierce County prosecutor’s agreement to take the death penalty off the table as a punishment for the slayings of newlyweds Beverly and Brian Mauck in November.
Tavares declined to speak during this morning’s sentencing hearing before Superior Court Judge Vicki Hogan, who sentenced him to two consecutive life prison terms.
Relatives of the victims did address the court during the emotional hearing.
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“I hope you see their faces everyday you sit in the cell,” Jennifer Heilbrun, sister of Brian Mauck, said to Tavares. “Life is short for most of us, but I hope yours is long and full of reflection.”
Heilbrun said she was angered by the slayings, but knew in her heart she had to forgive Tavares.
“I forgive you and may God have mercy on your soul,” she said, bringing tears to many in the courtroom.
Tavares, who spent years in a Massachusetts prison for killing his mother only to be released early because of a paperwork snafu, married a woman he met through an inmate pen pal service and moved to Washington just months before the murders.
Relatives of the Maucks said that despite their grief and anger they were relieved by the quick resolution of the case and happy they would not have to see Tavares again or endure a long criminal trial and appeals process.
On Wednesday, Pierce County Prosecutor Gerald Horne announced that he had accepted a plea deal with Tavares and would not be seeking the death penalty.
He said the ex-convict’s willingness to take responsibility for the murders, the desire of the victims’ families to put the slayings behind them and the cost and uncertainty of the death penalty process contributed to his decision.
“This is as certain as anyone can be that Mr. Tavares will die in prison and never be able to hurt anyone again,” Horne said.
As part of the plea agreement Tavares agreed to waive all of his rights to appeal.
Police and prosecutors said Tavares had been living with his new wife, whom he met through a prison pen pal site, in a trailer close to the Maucks’ home when he made the acquaintance of the friendly, athletic couple.
According to charging documents, Tavares went to the Maucks’ home around 7 a.m. on Nov. 17 to collect $50 he believed was owed him for a tattoo he was inking onto Brian Mauck’s back. Relatives of the victims said they understood that Tavares was insulted because Mauck didn’t like the tattoo and didn’t want to pay for it.
Tavares killed Brian Mauck, 30, first and then shot his 28-year-old wife as she tried to flee, according to court documents.
Tavares had been released from a maximum-security prison in Massachusetts, where he was serving a 16-year sentence for the 1991 stabbing death of his mother, about five months before the slaying.
According to Massachusetts officials, corrections officials could have kept Tavares behind bars for nearly a year longer had they filled out paperwork documenting his assaults on others within the prison.
Massachusetts authorities also failed to turn Tavares over to the Florida Department of Corrections for an outstanding charge or to seek a nationwide arrest warrant against him when Tavares left the state.
Tavares’ wife, Jennifer Tavares, 37, was charged with one misdemeanor count of rendering criminal assistance for lying to authorities to protect her husband and is free on bail, prosecutors said.
Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or email@example.com