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DA defends judge who freed killer con

SALEM – District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett Wednesday stood by a former employee, now judge, who is caught in the crossfire between Republican presidential candidates.Presidential contender Mitt Romney is under criticism for appointing former Essex County Family Crimes and Sexual Assault Unit Director Kathe Tuttman to a Superior Court judgeship in June 2006, 13 months before she allowed Daniel Tavares to be released from jail. Tavares reportedly confessed to killing a Washington state couple on Nov. 17.The murders of Brian and Beverly Mauck prompted candidates Rudolph Giuliani and John McCain to criticize Romney’s appointment of Tuttman. Romney has called for Tuttman’s resignation.Blodgett spoke on Tuttman’s behalf following her judicial nomination, but declined Wednesday to comment on the Tavares case.”She has a long, distinguished career. She put a lot of dangerous people in jail,” he said.Tuttman released Tavares despite prosecutors’ requests that he remain in prison because of his violent background. He served 16 years after being convicted in 1991 for stabbing his mother to death.The judge declined to comment on Tavares’ case earlier this week. Joan Kenney, Superior Court spokesperson, said the code of judicial comment prohibits judges from commenting on pending cases like Tavares’.Tuttman was the head of the Essex District Attorney’s Family Crimes and Sexual Assault Unit in 2005 when a high court judge turned down the DA’s request to have Daniel Parra treated as a sexually dangerous person.Former Lynn resident Parra was convicted in 1986 of sexually assaulting a boy and two girls in an apartment and his van several years earlier in Lynn.As his sentence neared its end in 2003, authorities started the process of having Parra declared a sexually dangerous person so that he could be held at a treatment center following his release from prison.That plan went off track when an apparent communication breakdown between the court and the Department of Corrections resulted in Parra being held for interviews beyond the 60 days allowed under the law.Prosecutors compounded the problem by missing the deadline for filing the evaluation examiner’s report on Parra. Those mistakes prompted Supreme Judicial Court Justice Elizabeth Fahey in November 2005 to dismiss the DA’s civil commitment request.Fahey ruled that the state violated its own statute when it held Parra well beyond the 60-day evaluation deadline.”The reason we didn’t meet the deadline was because the paperwork didn’t get there,” Blodgett said.Despite Fahey’s ruling, Parra was still required to register as a sex offender, but Tuttman acknowledged in 2005 that the Parra matter prompted the DA’s office to develop “a system to keep a case from falling through the cracks again.”

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