BY MIKE ARCHBOLD | The News Tribune
A lawsuit filed this week on behalf of a young Graham couple murdered in 2007 seeks damages from state and county officials in Massachusetts for how they dealt with the killer.
The suit brought on behalf of the parents and estates of Brian and Beverly Mauck alleges the officials “intentionally” and “with gross indifference” allowed Daniel Tavares Jr. to stay in Washington State instead of returning him to prison.
Named as defendants are 15 employees or supervisors of the Massachusetts Department of Corrections; the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office and the Masachusetts Commonwealth Fusion Center, a coordinating and information analysis agency.
A spokeswoman for the Corrections Department said Thursday the agency doesn’t comment on pending litigation. Because most public agencies were closed for the Veterans Day holiday, other state and county officials in Massachusetts were unavailable.
The suit was filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington by the Connelly Law Offices in Tacoma and the Greaney Law Firm in Kent.
Damage claims in the range of $16 million to $20 million previously were filed with the State of Massachusetts in connection with the slayings, according to the attorneys. A jury will decide any damages from the lawsuit.
Tavares, who was 41 when he was arrested, pleaded guilty in Pierce County Superior Court to killing the couple Nov. 17 in their Graham house.
He killed Brian Mauck, 30, first, shooting him in the temple and then twice in the back of his head. He then shot Beverly Mauck, 28, multiple times at close range. She had run out of a bedroom to help her husband.
In February 2008, Tavares was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the twin killings and now is in state prison at Walla Walla.
Tavares came to Washington from Massachusetts four months before the shooting after a judge there released him from prison on his recognizance. He was serving 17 to 21 years for the murder of his mother.
He moved to the Graham area to be with his wife, Jennifer, and they lived in a mobile home near the Maucks’ house. Jennifer Tavares pleaded guilty to rendering criminal assistance in the murders and was sentenced to a year in jail.
The lawsuit alleges errors by Massachusetts officials initially led to Tavares’ release from prison. His stay behind bars earned him 120 disciplinary reports of violence and they should have led to a reduction in his “good time” credit of 4.38 years, leaving him in prison another year, according to the suit.
“The Massachusetts Department of Corrections failed to properly file the (good time) deductions, resulting in Tavares’s premature release from prison,” according to the suit.
After Tavares came to Washington State, the lawsuit alleges, Massachusetts officials located him, knew he had fled the state and were aware he was extremely dangerous.
They knew he had made threats to kill others when he was released from prison, according to the lawsuit. His targets allegedly included Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Alleging the officials made an “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” decision, the lawsuit alleges they knowingly left Tavares in Washington State and limited their warrants for his arrest to New England states.
Massachusetts’s public safety secretary investigated the Tavares case in December 2007 and concluded officials did all they could to keep him in jail, according to The Associated Press. The investigation did not address the court action that led to his release.