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Originally published November 11, 2010 at 1:08 PM | Page modified November 11, 2010 at 11:06 PM

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Family of slain Graham couple seeks $20M over killer's early prison release

The family of a Graham couple who were brutally slain three years ago by a convicted killer mistakenly released from prison is seeking $20 million in damages from the state of Massachusetts.

Seattle Times staff reporter

The family of a Graham couple who were slain three years ago by a convicted killer mistakenly released from prison is seeking $20 million in damages from the state of Massachusetts.

Brian and Beverly Mauck were fatally shot in their home on Nov. 17, 2007, by neighbor Daniel Tavares Jr., who had been released from a Massachusetts prison five months earlier. Tavares was sentenced to life in prison without parole after he pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated first-degree murder.

Tavares told investigators that he killed the couple with a .22-caliber handgun because he believed they owed him $50 for a tattoo he was giving Brian Mauck.

Brian Mauck, 30, and Beverly Mauck, 28, had been married less than two years when they were killed, said Karen Slater, the slain woman's mother.

"I want Massachusetts to step up and be held accountable. This can never happen again," Slater said on Thursday. "My daughter is gone, and I'm never going to get over this."

Slater, of Milton, Pierce County, said she's still struggling with the death of her only daughter.

"I just miss her so much. She was such a happy person," Slater said.

Tavares, 44, was released from prison in Massachusetts in June 2007 after serving 16 years for killing his mother. After meeting a woman through an online-inmate pen-pal service, Tavares married her upon his release and moved to Graham, Pierce County, where they lived in a trailer on property owned by her family.

But an investigation after the Maucks were killed revealed that Massachusetts corrections officials could have kept Tavares behind bars for nearly a year longer had they filled out paperwork documenting his assaults on others in the prison.

Massachusetts authorities also failed to turn Tavares over to the Florida Department of Corrections on an outstanding warrant or to immediately notify Washington state law-enforcement officials when they learned he had moved to Graham, investigators found.

"It was out of sight and out of mind; they just let Washington deal with the problem," said Tacoma attorney Jack Connelly, who is representing the Mauck family in the civil lawsuit. "This is a man they knew was exceptionally dangerous."

Connelly said the couple's death "could have been prevented if they [Massachusetts prison officials] enforced their own rules."

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"I don't know why they would let somebody like this out early."

Connelly said he filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Seattle on Wednesday because of statute-of-limitations restrictions. A tort claim, a precursor to the lawsuit, was filed in a Massachusetts court last year, Connelly said. In that claim, the family sought between $16 million and $20 million in damages.

"It's a case that should be brought. It's time to file this one," Connelly said.

Harold Clarke, the head of the Massachusetts prison system and coincidentally the former head of the Washington state Department of Corrections, is named in the federal suit.

Also named are members of the Worchester County District Attorney's Office, Massachusetts' Executive Office of Public Safety, employees of the Massachusetts Department of Correction and Security and Massachusetts Commonwealth Fusion Center, which helps share information between local, state, regional and federal public-safety agencies.

A spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Department of Correction said the agency doesn't comment on pending litigation.

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com

Information from Seattle Times archives and The Associated Press is included in this report.

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