BROCKTON — A family apparently fractured by years of domestic violence reached a fatal breaking point Monday night when a son stabbed his father near the heart, severing his aortic artery with a small kitchen knife, prosecutors said.
Amilton Goncalves, 21, is accused of killing his father outside the family home after a day of fighting among family members. About 3:30 Monday afternoon, authorities said, Goncalves punched his mother, Isabel, twice in the face. About six hours later, according to a police report, his father, Joao, was dead.
When officers caught up to Amilton Goncalves, he repeatedly asked if his father was OK, according to police. Told later that he was being charged with murder, the young man allegedly said, “That little knife killed my father? There’s no way. I can’t kill my father.”
The family argument began Sunday over the volume of music playing on Goncalves’s iPhone, prosecutors said Tuesday in Brockton District Court.
Goncalves’s defense attorney countered that the conflict actually began years earlier, when his client was subjected to persistent “domestic turmoil” as a child. According to the attorney, Liam D. Scully, Goncalves was retreating from his punch-throwing father Monday night when he swung the blade of a paring knife in self-defense.
“There’s ongoing friction that rises and falls in intensity,” Scully said in an interview. “That day, it was rising.”
Goncalves pleaded not guilty to a murder charge and two counts of assault and battery. A district court judge ordered him held without bail.
Prosecutors said Tuesday that multiple domestic violence charges against the younger Goncalves have been dismissed since 2010. One case, stemming from a fight between father and son in May 2012, is still open after Amilton Goncalves did not show up for trial in March 2013, court records show. His bail was revoked in that case Tuesday.
The Goncalves family declined to comment outside their home Tuesday afternoon.
Brockton police first responded to the Goncalves home at 16 Louis St. Monday afternoon for a domestic violence call, according to a police log. The argument over the volume of Amilton Goncalves’s music had escalated, and Joao Goncalves had threatened to call authorities, according to a police report. When his father went outside, Amilton Goncalves allegedly tried to follow, but his mother blocked the door, police said.
Goncalves hit her twice in the face and then fled, according to the police report.
Court records show that Goncalves was not arrested because he had run away and had taken a bus and train to his cousin’s house in Dorchester. Isabel Goncalves declined an ambulance, but she had a bloody nose and bruised chin, prosecutors said.
After sunset, police reports show, the younger Goncalves returned home. His attorney said he was trying to retrieve clothing and see where he stood with the family, but his father blocked him from entering the house.
After he was arrested, Goncalves waived his Miranda rights and recounted the day’s events to investigators, police said. A state trooper wrote in a probable cause report that Goncalves said his father had hit him twice and that he had hit his father once before backing away to the street.
The younger Goncalves said his father followed and called him back. The son sid that when he approached, Joao Goncalves hit him again.
“I felt pressure; I was losing,” the younger Goncalves said, according to the report.
“I’m walking away, he’s coming toward me, so I just threw the knife in there,” Goncalves allegedly told investigators.
Neighbors said they heard screaming from the Goncalves’s house and saw Joao Goncalves on the ground outside. Danny Flaherty, 49, said he approached and started trying to breathe into his neighbor’s mouth as another man performed chest compressions.
“We tried to save his life,” Flaherty said.
Louis Street residents said that despite the Goncalves family’s apparent history of legal disputes, they were quiet neighbors.
“Other than that day, totally quiet,” said Matthew McLean, 28. “Really nice family, wicked polite.”
The killing is the third death related to domestic violence in Plymouth County in the last two months. On June 11, a Rockland man allegedly stabbed his wife to death. In May, a man in Brockton allegedly killed his estranged wife in her home.
Patricia Kelleher, director of Family and Community Resources, Inc., said the rash of domestic homicides in the area is extremely unusual.
Wednesday evening, people from her organization will gather in Brockton to release butterflies into the air. The goal, she said, is to honor victims and raise awareness of resources for others who may be abused. The event was planned before the killing Monday.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified Patricia Kelleher. She is the director of Family and Community Resources, Inc.