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 last year outside a Waterville hotel.

Irineu B. Goncalves Waterville Police Department photo

Irineu B. Goncalves, 35, of Revere, Massachusetts, was arrested after an incident in which he told the Vassalboro woman, “I am going to kill you, and I am going to kill you now,” before wrapping his hands around her neck and squeezing so hard she lost consciousness and began coughing up blood, according to officials.

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, and four years of probation. That means he will serve 18 years if he complies with the terms of his probation, but could serve the entire 30-year term if he violates probation.

Goncalves, clad in a blue Kennebec County Correctional Facility uniform, stood in court to apologize to the victim, with whom he had a relationship and two children, now 2 and 4, and 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 he was sentenced at Wednesday’s hearing at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta. “If I could go back and avoid that day, I would. It’s been 11 months, and I still ask myself, ‘How did I lose control of myself like that?’

“I made a mistake that day, but I’m glad my mistake didn’t end up a tragedy, and I thank everyone who got involved to help. I didn’t want to kill (her). I didn’t try to kill (her). And I can guarantee I will never do anything to her.”

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He said facing time in prison is devastating because he will not be able to see his children, whom he loves.

After Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy issued her sentence to Goncalves and asked lawyers for both sides if the terms of Goncalves’ probation should include whether he could have contact with his children, Goncalves interjected.

“Don’t worry about that, your honor,” he said. “I never want to see her kids again.”

The victim said Goncalves was controlling and threatening during their relationship, stalked her after she broke it off and will be a threat to her and their children whenever he gets out of prison. She pleaded for him to receive a sentence long enough so that by the time of his release, she could have a safety plan in place and their children would be old enough for her to explain to them that their father tried to kill her and is a dangerous man.

“I can’t fathom having to explain to them, when they’re 12 and 14, what their father did,” the woman said. “I’m asking for time to mitigate some of the damage this is going to have on their lives. The day he gets out, my family is not safe. He does not feel remorse, he takes no accountability.

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

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The Kennebec Journal does not identify victims of domestic violence without their permission.

District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said after the sentencing she was thankful for the victim’s testimony. Maloney said the woman’s testimony likely protected other women from victimization.

Maloney also thanked the Waterville Police Department — specifically, Officer Jake Whitley — for saving the victim’s life.

Waterville police arrived shortly after witnesses reported Goncalves attacking the woman in June 2023 behind a Main Street hotel, at which point Goncalves bit Whitley’s hand, tried twisting off his ear, swung at another officer and tried reaching for his gun. Officials said Goncalves showed no response after being shot twice with a Taser, which delivers 50,000 volts of electricity, and repeatedly pepper-sprayed.

Murphy said Goncalves attack on the woman was brutal and persistent as the victim slipped away and he kept coming, beating her in her car and then, after she briefly escaped his grasp, getting on top of her on the pavement, wrapping his hands around her throat and strangling her until she lost consciousness.

During the trial, Goncalves’ defense lawyer, Roger Brunelle Jr., and an expert witness sought to show that Goncalves was distraught after the woman allegedly almost hit him with her car while they argued after learning Goncalves would not be able to see his children. Brunelle and the expert witness said Goncalves entered into a dissociative mental state, was not aware of what he was doing and was unable to form intent to commit murder.

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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.

“There was just jealous rage,” Murphy said. “No matter how you look at it, the court has to conclude Mr. Goncalves is a thoroughly dangerous person, certainly to the victim in this case. The facts show this is a very dangerous assault, with impacts on two families, and two sets of children, that will go on for years and years and years.”

In court Wednesday, a woman who has two children with Goncalves said he is a good father and was never violent toward her or their children.

Goncalves’ sister said the violent acts he committed were out of character for her brother, whom she said often acts as a mediator between other family members.

Goncalves’ other charges included domestic violence aggravated assault, violation of condition of release and assault on an officer. He was sentenced separately on the assault on an officer charge because, Murphy ruled, it was a separate crime.

Murphy sentenced Goncalves to a consecutive 30 months in prison on that charge, but suspended all 30 months of the sentence.

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