WEST CHESTER —
A hearing on escape charges against convicted murderer Danelo Cavalcante that is set for this week is likely to be continued as the defense waits for additional criminal counts to be added to the cases, sources say.
The preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Friday before Magisterial District Judge Matthew Seavey of Avondale in his court on West Cypress Street outside Kennett Square. But should the state Attorney General’s Office decide to lodge new charges, the proceedings would likely be continued until sometime later, possibly in the coming year.
Those new charges could include theft of a motor vehicle, theft of a firearm, and various counts of burglary. Cavalcante allegedly stole a truck from a dairy farm near Longwood Gardens, where police had centered a massive search for the escapee, and was said by authorities to have broken into a homeowner’s garage in northern Chester County, where he took a rifle.
Residents near the Chester County Prison in Pocopson also reported having someone break into their homes during the two weeks while Cavalcante was on the run from authorities in August and September.
A spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, Brett Hambright, said earlier this month that he had no information on whether those charges were being considered, and pointed a reporter to the official court docket. That docket showed no charges on Monday.
First Assistant Public Defender Susanna DeWese, who is representing Cavalcante in the escape case, declined to comment on the matter. However, a source aware of the proceedings but who asked for anonymity to discuss them said the Public Defender’s Office was awaiting the new charges to determine whether to hold the hearing this week.
Cavalcante, 34, of King of Prussia, was convicted by a jury in Chester County Common Pleas Court of the 2021 murder of his estranged girlfriend, Deborah Brandao, in front of her two children outside their home in Schuylkill. He was sentenced by Judge Patrick Carmody to life in prison without parole, plus 2 1/2 to five years on Aug. 23.
Cavalcante is wanted in his native Brazil in a 2017 homicide case, according to authorities. When Brandao learned of the case, she threatened to expose Cavalcante to police, the District Attorney’s office said in a statement on August 23, after he was formally sentenced. That was his motive for the murder, according to District Attorney Deb Ryan, who prosecuted the case.
While he was awaiting transfer to state prison, Cavalcante hatched a plot to escape from the prison, located south of West Chester. On Aug. 31, he scaled a set of interior walls in the prison’s exercise yard, placing his hands and feet on either side and “crab-walking” up, out of view. He then ran across a roof, scaled a fence and pushed his way through razor wire to escape, the prison’s acting warden, Howard Holland, later said.
A corrections officer who was on duty in an observation tower failed to detect his movements as he fled. The officer was later fired for bringing a personal phone into the facility.
Cavalcante then led police on a two week manhunt, hiding from them in the deep wooded areas in Pocopson and East Marlborough, living on creek water, stolen food, and pumpkins. The media flocked to the county and reported daily on the hunt’s progress, or lack thereof.
The escape also caused outrage among county residents, and led the commissioners and members off the county Prison Board to recommend new procedures for security at the facility. There are also plans in place to enclose the outdoor exercise area.
He was eventually taken into custody by a squad of officers and a K-9 officer in South Coventry on Sept. 13.
At least a month before his escape, a prison correction officer had warned that he was planning an escape, according to an email exchange made public.
He is now housed in the maximum security prison at SCI Phoenix, outside Collegeville in Montgomery County. It is unclear whether he would attend any proceedings involving the charges against him when they are held, or whether he would appear via video link.
To contact staff writer Michael P. Rellahan call 610-696-1544.
Source: Berkshire mont