Man sentenced to 18 years in prison for attempted murder in Waterville
Man sentenced to 18 years in prison for attempted murder in Waterville

AUGUSTA – A judge on Wednesday sentenced a Massachusetts man to at least 18 years in prison for attempted murder and several other charges after he strangled and beat the mother of his children outside a Waterville hotel last year.

Irineu B. Gonçalves Photo by Waterville Police

Irineu B. Goncalves, 35, of Revere, Massachusetts, was arrested, officials said, after telling the Vassalboro woman, “I’m going to kill you, right now,” before putting his hands around her neck and squeezing so hard that she lost consciousness and coughed up blood.

Goncalves was found guilty of attempted murder and several other charges at trial last month and sentenced to 30 years in prison, with all but 18 years suspended, plus four years of probation. That means he will serve 18 years if he complies with probation terms, but will have to serve the entire 30-year sentence if he violates probation.

Goncalves, dressed in the blue uniform of the Kennebec County Correctional Facility, stood in court to apologize to the victim, with whom he was in a relationship and had two children, now 2 and 4 years old, as well as to her and his families.

“I am sorry because I know my actions have caused a lot of suffering and pain to those I care about,” Goncalves said before being sentenced at the hearing Wednesday at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta. “If I could go back and avoid this day, I would. It’s been 11 months and I still ask myself, ‘How could I lose control of myself like that?’

“I made a mistake that day, but I’m glad my mistake didn’t end in tragedy, and I thank everyone who stepped up and helped. I didn’t mean to kill (her). I didn’t try to kill (her). And I can guarantee I’ll never do anything to her.”

He said the prison sentence was devastating because he could not see his beloved children.

After Judge Michaela Murphy announced Goncalves’ sentence and asked attorneys for both sides whether Goncalves’ probation conditions should include whether he can have contact with his children, Goncalves interjected.

“Don’t worry about it, Your Honor,” he said. “I never want to see your children again.”

The victim said Goncalves was controlling and threatening during their relationship, stalked her after they split up, and will pose a threat to her and her children when he gets out of prison. She pleaded with him to get a sentence long enough so that she has a safety plan in place by the time he is released and her children are old enough to explain that their father tried to kill them and is a dangerous man.

“I can’t imagine having to explain to them at the ages of 12 and 14 what their father did,” the woman said. “I’m asking for time to mitigate the damage this will do to their lives. The day he gets out, my family will no longer be safe. He feels no remorse, he takes no responsibility.”

“He has nothing to lose and I know that if he gets the chance, he will try to finish this. And there is nothing this court can do about it. What this man did has changed me forever. The only thing that can give me comfort now is the longest possible sentence.”

The Kennebec Journal does not disclose the identities of victims of domestic violence without their permission.

District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said after the verdict that she was grateful for the victim’s testimony. Maloney said the woman’s testimony likely saved other women from becoming victims.

Maloney also thanked the Waterville Police Department – ​​and especially Officer Jake Whitley – for saving the victim’s life.

Waterville police arrived shortly after witnesses said Goncalves attacked the woman behind a Main Street hotel in June 2023. Goncalves bit Whitley on the hand, tried to twist off his ear, punched another officer and tried to reach for his gun. Officials said Goncalves showed no reaction after being shot twice with a Taser, which delivers 50,000 volts of electricity, and repeatedly sprayed with pepper spray.

Murphy said Goncalves’ attack on the woman was brutal and persistent. The victim escaped, but he kept coming closer and struck her in her car. After she briefly escaped his grasp, he jumped on top of her on the sidewalk, put his hands around her throat and choked her until she lost consciousness.

During the trial, Goncalves’ defense attorney Roger Brunelle Jr. and an expert witness tried to show that Goncalves became distraught after the woman allegedly nearly hit him with her car while they argued after learning that Goncalves was not allowed to see his children. Brunelle and the expert said Goncalves entered a dissociative mental state, was unaware of what he was doing and was unable to form the intent to commit murder.

Murphy said Goncalves appeared to be in some sort of abnormal mental state at the time, but his statements made it clear he knew what he was doing.

“It was just jealousy,” Murphy said. “No matter how you look at it, the court must conclude that Mr. Goncalves is a dangerous person through and through, certainly to the victim in this case. The facts show that this is a very dangerous attack that will affect two families and two groups of children and will continue for many years to come.”

A woman who has two children with Goncalves said in court on Wednesday that he was a good father and had never been violent towards her or her children.

Goncalves’ sister said the acts of violence he committed were uncharacteristic of her brother, who often acts as a mediator between other family members.

Other charges against Goncalves included domestic violence, aggravated assault, violation of conditions of release and assault on an officer. He was sentenced separately for assault on an officer because it was a separate crime, Murphy said.

Murphy sentenced Goncalves to 30 consecutive months in prison on this charge, but the sentence was suspended.

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