Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will not apologize for a judge he nominated who ordered the release of a violent criminal who once threatened to kill Romney and now is being held in fresh murders of a newlywed Washington state couple, a Romney spokesman said Friday.
Daniel Tavares Jr. now faces murder charges in the killing of the Graham, Wash., couple, only months after he was released from jail by Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Kathe M. Tuttman's decision.
Tavares, who already had served time after using a carving knife to kill his mother, was rearrested just after his June prison release on charges of assaulting prison guards. Tuttman refused prosecutors' request to set his bail at $50,000, and released him in July. Tavares was ordered to continue to see his probation officer, but he skipped his next court date and left the state.
Romney spokesman Kevin Madden said Friday that the GOP presidential candidate played only a minor role in the nominating process, and that Tuttman was not a political, personal or judicial friend or associate of Romney's
"Better than apologizing is condemning the decision to give bail," Madden said. "All signs point to a system-wide breakdown. What we need now is to make sure the system doesn't break down again."
The Boston Herald originally reported Thursday that Tavares also threatened to kill Romney and other Massachusetts public officials when he was released from prison. He made the threats in February 2006.
Romney said Wednesday that the convicted killer should never have been released from prison, and his campaign used the incident to restate Romney's support for the death penalty.
"This is a dangerous man who killed his own mother. He should have been held on bail, given his violent record, attacks on correction officers and a history of threats against public officials, including Gov. Romney," Eric Fehrnstrom, a Romney spokesman told the Herald. "It is because of monsters like Daniel Tavares that we need the death penalty."
In Washington state, the father of the newly-married bride who police say was murdered by Tavares wants Romney held accountable for the judge whose decision set Tavares free.
“He was the governor — he picked this judge,” Beverly Mauck’s father, Darrel Slater, 51, told the Herald. “He should be answering for what happened.”
Tuttman, 55, is a former Essex prosecutor who headed the family crimes and sexual assault unit before her appointment to the bench in 2006.
Tuttman's appointment came to Romney from the Massachusetts executive judicial appointment board and arrived at Romney's desk without Tuttman's name attached.
Romney approved Tuttman's nomination to the commonwealth's Governor's Council, an eight-member body elected to screen and confirm a variety of gubernatorial appointees, including judicial appointees. The council approved Tuttman's nomination.
Madden said this process of judicial appointment — one that did not disclose the nominee's name to Romney — shows this case is not similar to the weekend prison furlough program former presidential candidate and Democratic Gov. Michael Dukakis maintained in Massachusetts.
Under this program, convicted murdered Willie Horton was given a furlough in 1986, and in 1987 he raped and murdered a Maryland woman and her fiance. Dukakis defended the furlough program and opposed the death penalty. The issue proved damaging to Dukakis in the 1988 general election campaign against GOP nominee George Herbert Walker Bush.
"Romney is for the death penalty and under his program this guy would have been put to death," Madden said.
FOX News' Major Garrett contributed to this report.