FALL RIVER — Daniel T. Tavares Jr., an admitted killer of three people including his mother, denied Monday that he killed a 32-year-old parent of three young girls in Fall River in 1988, as her relatives looked on from the courtroom, some clutching pictures of their slain loved one.
Tavares entered a not-guilty plea during a brief hearing in Bristol Superior Court to a charge of first-degree murder in the slaying of Gayle Botelho. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Oct. 16.
“I felt very odd being in the same room as a man so evil,” said one of Botelho’s siblings, Beverly Souza of Tiverton, R.I. “I’ve never faced evil, and I felt that this man, who’s murdered four people, is the definition of true evil.”
But his court-appointed lawyer, Christopher Belezos, said after the hearing that “at this point, he intends to defend against” the allegation.
Tavares, 47, is currently serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole in Washington state for a double murder there in 2007.
In May, he sent a letter from prison to the Boston Herald, writing that he would “plea to the charge of murder” in Botelho’s death. He also claimed that she was killed because she and another man “decided to steal from the wrong people” and that he “did as I was told” to protect his own family, the newspaper reported.
Asked about the letter Monday, Belezos said, “I’m not sure that I’d go so far as to say that it was a confession.”
At the time of her disappearance in October 1988, Botelho lived across the street from Tavares, who stabbed his mother, Ann, to death in 1991. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter in that case.
In 2000, Tavares told former Bristol district attorney Paul F. Walsh’s office where Botelho’s body could be found. But Walsh said at the time that Tavares had implicated two other men in that killing.
The current district attorney, C. Samuel Sutter, announced the new indictment against Tavares in April. He said then that investigators received a break in the case when a witness who had been part of the alibi for Tavares provided a different version of events that implicated him in Botelho’s killing.
Tavares remained imprisoned for killing his mother until 2007, when he was released despite efforts by the Department of Correction to keep him behind bars for repeatedly assaulting correction officers.
Tavares’s bail on the assaults on the officers was originally set at $100,000 cash, but Superior Court Judge Kathe M. Tuttman released him on personal recognizance.
Tavares fled to Washington, where he shot and killed his neighbors, Beverly and Brian Mauck, on Nov. 17, 2007. He pleaded guilty to killing the Maucks in 2008.
Souza, Botelho's sister, said Monday that she is disappointed that their mother, Lorraine, died several years ago before she could see her daughter’s alleged killer brought to justice.
She added that one of Botelho’s daughters, Heather, attended Monday’s arraignment. “Her daughter was only 2 years old when her mother was taken, so she doesn’t have any memories of her mother,” Souza said.
She said family members do not plan to attend pretrial hearings, in part because prosecutors have said they tend to be largely procedural and relatives want to ensure they can obtain time off from work for the trial.