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The Willie Horton story was likely a factor in the defeat of former Massachusett governor and Democratic Presidential nominee Mike Dukakis in the 1988 election, but it looks like former Massachusetts governor and Republican Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney now faces a far worse situation involving the tragic murders of a newlywed couple in Washington.

In 1991, Massachusetts resident Daniel Tavares Jr. hacked his mother to death and slashed another man. Tavares, who already had a long rap sheet, was sentenced to 17-20 years in prison for his mother's murder. Tavares was known as a troublemaker in prison.

Besides allegedly assaulting two prison guards, he also:

threatened to kill the governor, the attorney general of MA, Bristol County Sheriff, and other law enforcement officials when released," according to a DOC document obtained by the Herald.

How did this guy get an early release for good behavior, you might ask? The person who may be able to answer that question is Superior Court Judge Kathe Tuttman - appointed by Romney in 2006.

Tavares finished his sentence on June 14 (2007), but was immediately re-arrested on a warrant charging him with two counts of assaulting Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center prison guards during his troubled stint behind bars, Department of Correction officials said.

Worcester prosecutors requested $50,000 cash bail for each of those charges, an amount approved by Clinton District Court Judge Martha Brennan, according to court documents.

But Tavares appealed the bail and on July 16, (2007) Superior Court Judge Kathe Tuttman released him on personal recognizance. Tavares was freed and fled the state to marry and live in a Washington trailer with Jennifer Lynn Tavares, who met the convict at Walpole after answering an inmate personal ad. He defaulted on a July 23 court date, prosecutors said. Source: The Boston Herald

From a November 21, 2007 news report in the Boston Herald:

Four months after a Bay State judge overlooked his history of violence and set him free, Daniel T. Tavares Jr. yesterday pleaded not guilty to the execution-style murder of two young newlyweds in Washington state. Tavares, 41, was ordered held without bail in Pierce County, Wash., on charges of aggravated first-degree murder and one count of unlawful possession. If convicted, he will either spend the rest of his life in prison or face the death penalty.

Tavares’ brother-in-law found the bodies of neighbors Brian Mauck, 30, and his wife Beverly, 28, on Saturday after noticing the front door to their home had been kicked in, according to court filings. Each was shot three times in the head.......

Though he pleaded not guilty, Tavares allegedly admitted during a taped interview that he shot the victims following a verbal fight with Brian Mauck.

Ironically, when Romney was campaigning in Seattle this past week, he was warned that Tavares was in the area:

Prior to Daniel Tavares Jr.’s Monday arrest in Washington for a grisly double murder, authorities there warned former Gov. Mitt Romney he should be on high alert in Seattle for the convicted killer who had once threatened to assassinate him, a source told the Herald.

Romney, who spent Thanksgiving with his family at their Lake Winnipesaukee, N.H., summer home, yesterday called on Superior Court Judge Kathe Tuttman - his own judicial nominee - to answer for her decision to free Tavares last summer on personal recognizance, as national media jumped on the story and political bloggers threatened to turn it into a hot-button campaign issue.

"Judge Tuttman’s entire experience as a prosecutor suggested she would be a law and order judge," said Romney’s spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, in a statement. "Otherwise, she wouldn’t have been appointed. Only she can explain why she released Daniel Tavares without bail. It’s inexcusable and she should answer for it." Romney was stumping for votes in Seattle when news of the gruesome Washington murders broke.

Romney was warned, but apparently Washington law enforcement officials were not:

Meanwhile, a top law enforcement official in Washington state lashed out yesterday at the "free pass" Tuttman gave Tavares last summer when he was freed on personal recognizance after being charged with assaulting two prison guards.

"It’s really pissed off a lot of people around here," said Ed Troyer, spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff’s office in Washington. "How does a guy who’s already killed his own mother get out here without us knowing about it?"

Before he was arrested for the double murder, Tavares also threatened his father, who has been sleeping with a gun under his pillow since his son's release from prison this past summer. His father's reaction to the son who killed his own mother:

"As far as I am concerned," I don’t have a son," Tavares said. "I hope they execute him for what he did, and I want to be there when they do."

Mitt Romney appointed the judge who set this murderer free on personal recognizance just four months ago. Will this affect Romney's campaign for President? Romney left lots of messes behind in Massachusetts, and it's inevitable that they are now beginning to surface.

Tragically, the Masschusetts court system seems to have failed Brian and Beverly Mauck. Judge Tuttman has so far refused to comment.

Originally posted to Ekaterin on Fri Nov 23, 2007 at 04:53 PM PST.

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