The prosecutor in charge of Danelo Cavalcante’s homicide case in Brazil said he thought the convicted killer was on his way to his native country when he escaped from a Pennsylvania prison last month.
Cavalcante, who was captured on Wednesday after nearly two weeks on the run, fled Brazil in 2018 a few months after allegedly shooting a man who owed him money to death. He faces a much lighter sentence in Brazil compared to the life sentence handed to him in the U.S. for killing his girlfriend in 2021, Tocantins state prosecutor Rafael Pinto Alamy told The Associated Press Thursday.
“I thought he wanted to escape to Brazil,” Alamy said. “He would have to comply with the prison rules here, which are much more lenient.”
If convicted in Brazil, Cavalcante faces a maximum of 30 years in prison since the country does not hand down life sentences and could possibly be released after about 12 years for good behavior, Alamy said.
Cavalcante’s homicide charge in Brazil stems from the Nov. 5, 2017, death of 20-year-old Valter Júnior Moreira dos Reis, who he is accused of shooting five times outside a restaurant in Figueiropolis – a small rural town in the Brazilian state of Tocantins. A witness told officers that Cavalcante rant to his car after the shooting and fled the scene.
The victim’s sister later told police she thought Cavalcante attacked him because of a debt he owed related to damage done to a car, according to a police report seen by The AP.
Brazilian authorities opened an investigation into Cavalcante and a judge ordered his preventive arrest within a week, but law enforcement never found him, The AP reported.
Fantastico, an investigative television show in Brazil, reported that Cavalcante traveled to Brasília in January 2018. It’s unclear if he used his own identification to travel, but he was only listed as a fugitive in the state of Tocantins until he was included in a national warrant information system in June 2018, Alamy said.
Cavalcante has a court hearing scheduled for Oct. 11 in connection with the case in Brazil, which is expected to go to a jury “probably next year,” according to his lawyer Magnus Lourenço and Alamy.
Lourenço added that there’s a chance the October date could be delayed because he is not sure if Cavalcante will be notified of it in time.
Similar to the widespread coverage of Cavalcante’s escape and subsequent capture in America, Brazilian media outlets also covered the saga and his eventual apprehension made the front page of many newspapers in the country.
Loved ones of his alleged victim in Brazil told local paper Folha de S. Paulo that they are relieved Cavalcante is paying for his crimes, even if it’s in another country.
“We’re pleased (with his capture), but there was no justice for my brother in Brazil. Justice is very slow,” said Dayane Moreira dos Reis, the victim’s sister. “We (now) hope he’ll stay in prison for his whole sentence.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.