Prison escape charges and a Brazil trial: What comes next for Danelo Cavalcante?

Cavalcante has been charged with felony escape over the prison break

Andrea Blanco
Thursday 14 September 2023 12:12 EDT

Chris Cuomo speaks with US Marshall who conducted Danelo Cavalcante capture

Danelo Cavalcante is finally back behind bars after he was arrested more than forty miles from the northwestern Pennsylvania prison he escaped late last month.

The multi-agency manhunt for 34-year-old Cavalcante made national headlines as it spanned for nearly two weeks. Officials were forced to repeatedly expand their search perimeter after the murder convict sneaked past it time and time again.

Throughout the 14-day ordeal, Cavalcante managed to survive by eating watermelons he stole from a farm. He also stole a van and a .22 rifle and has since confessed he planned to carry out a carjack and then flee to Canada.

Just hours after his arrest, Cavalcante was hit with new charges stemming from his jailbreak. He is already serving life in prison for the April 2021 brutal murder of his former ex-girlfriend Deborah Brandao, 33.

Now, Brazilian prosecutors are also preparing to pursue a trial against Cavalcante in connection with a 2017 murder that the murder convict is accused of.

Here’s what comes next for Cavalcante:

Law enforcement officers escort Danelo Cavalcante from a Pennsylvania State Police barracks in Avondale Pa., on Wednesday

Cavalcante was captured shortly after 8am on Wednesday after a Drug Enforcement Administration aircraft with thermal imagining picked up a signal from a wooded area in Pottstown. A Border Patrol tactical unit closed in on Cavalcante and set out a K9 to detain him.

Cavalcante was handcuffed and treated for a dog bite he sustained during his capture. His clothing — dark prison pants and a stolen Eagles hoodie that Governor Josh Shapiro has since promised to replace for the rightful owner — was cut off and Cavalcante was transported in a tactical unit vehicle to the state police’s barracks in Avondale.

The processing lasted four hours. In an interview with law enforcement and a Portuguese interpreter, Cavalcante “brutally honest” about his two weeks evading capture, Supervisory Deputy US Marshall Robert Clark told NewsNation.

Cavalcante’s new mugshot after being arrested on Wednesday

Cavalcante said that he ate watermelon he stole from a farm, drank water from a stream and hid within dense thickets where, unless someone stepped on him, he would be able to remain hidden from sight. To cover his tracks, he would hide his faeces under leaves.

There were several close calls with search teams, the fugitive also allegedly admitted.

After the processing was finished, Cavalcante was escorted out of the barracks wearing a hospital gown.

He was barefoot and had shackles on his feet.

Moment police pose with escaped killer Danelo Cavalcante after capture

Cavalcante has been charged with felony escape over the prison break. He made a brief court appearance where he was denied bail.

He is expected to appear in court again for a preliminary hearing on 27 September. More charges could be filed over the thefts Cavalcante carried out during his escape, as well as several home invasions in the area that have not yet been proven to be linked to the convict.

Cavalcante is now being held at the State Correctional Institution – Phoenix, in Montgomery County, where he is expected to serve his life sentence over Brandao’s killing. The prison, which was built in 2018 and once housed Bill Cosby, is a maximum-security facility with a 3.2 to 1 prisoner-to-staff ratio.

Deborah Brandao (pictured) was stabbed to death in front of her children in April 2021

Meanwhile, in Brazil, prosecutors in Tocantins state have also accused Cavalcante of “double qualified homicide” in the 2017 slaying of Válter Júnior Moreira dos Reis in Figueirópolis, which they said was over a debt the victim owed him for repairing a vehicle.

According to the Brazilian news outlet Folha de Sao Paulo, prosecutors plan to move on with a trial next month. Moreira dos Reis’ sister Dayane Moreira dos Reis told the publication that she believed Cavalcante’s escape had prompted prosecutors to revisit the case.

“Justice is very slow. We spent seven years without any answers,” she told Folha de Sao Paulo. "My brother even said before he died that he would pay for the repairs, that he shouldn't worry, but it didn't help.”

The prosecutor’s office reportedly advocated against Cavalcante being included on Interpol’s wanted list due to his ongoing legal process in America. However, Brazilian authorities claimed they have begun negotiations with the US Embassy in order to move forward with the process, Folha de Sao Paulo reports.

In Pennsylvania, Brandao’s family has thanked law enforcement “for the support and hard work performed.”

“The past two weeks were extremely painful and terrifying, as they brought back all the feelings of losing my sister and the idea that this criminal could hurt us again,” Brandao’s sister Sarah Brandao told KION46 in a statement translated from Portuguese.

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