AUGUSTA —A Massachusetts man was found guilty of attempted murder this week after strangling, punching and nearly killing his ex-girlfriend in the parking lot of a Waterville hotel last year.

Irineu Goncalves Waterville Police Department photo

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

Police arrived shortly afterward, at which point Goncalves bit a responding officer’s hand, tried twisting off his ear, swung at another and tried reaching for his gun. Authorities said he “showed no response” after being tased twice with 50,000 volts of electricity and repeatedly pepper sprayed.

The victim is not being named because the Morning Sentinel does not identify victims of domestic violence without their permission.

Goncalves was initially charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, domestic violence criminal threatening, assault on an officer, refusing to submit to arrest and violating conditions of release. He pleaded guilty last week to the charges of aggravated assault and violating conditions of release.

He was found guilty on Monday of attempted murder, domestic violence criminal threatening and assault on an officer. The decision was handed down in a bench trial, meaning that Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy decided the case rather than a jury.


“This was a very personal attack on someone he knew well,” Murphy wrote in her decision. “The two had a very difficult and fraught relationship. (The victim) was desperately trying to end it; he was desperately trying to continue it.”

Goncalves engaged in what prosecutors described as an “on again, off again” relationship with the victim, who lived in Vassalboro while Goncalves lived in Massachusetts and worked as a truck driver. His routes often took him to Maine, where he would stay in Waterville.

The couple had two children together, which Goncalves said he only had “sporadic at best” contact with in the months prior to the attack. The woman said during her testimony she believed Goncalves to be a poor father, in part due to a lack of self control.

“(The victim) had told him that she did not think he was a good father,” Murphy’s decision read. “That she thought of him only as a ‘sperm donor,’ and that she was looking to find a better father for their children.”

The June 14, 2023, incident took place, the victim said, after she had finished playing in a pickup soccer game at Colby College and saw Goncalves walking alongside the road. She stopped to ask what he was doing and gave him a ride back to the Waterville Holiday Inn Express & Suites at 332 Main St., where he was staying.

The woman then received a text from a member of her soccer team, which Goncalves interpreted as a message from a new lover and a sign that the victim was attempting to leave him.


Goncalves said the woman asked her to leave the car before backing it into him, though the woman disagreed during her testimony, saying she had just put the car in gear and taken her foot off the brake to convince Goncalves to close her car door so she could leave.

Dr. Peter Donnelly, a clinical psychologist, testified for the defense that the incident and argument leading up to it caused Goncalves to enter a “dissociative state” where he was not consciously aware of his actions.

“Being in a dissociative state would severely impact someone’s ability to be consciously aware of what they’re doing,” Donnelly testified last week. “He felt he was going to be run over and became enraged and went into trauma response. For many people, it’s fight, flight or freeze. For him it was fight.”

Justice Murphy agreed, saying that Goncalves “suffered from an abnormal condition of the mind” during the assault. She cited testimony from both police and the victim noting Goncalves’ blank expression on his face during the attack.

“He was essentially silent as he brutally attacked (the victim),” Murphy wrote in her decision. “He showed no response to being repeatedly pepper-sprayed and twice tased with 50,000 volts of electricity.”

Goncalves had no prior mental health history, according to police. Family members told investigators they had never seen him act the way he did that evening.


Two people tried restraining Goncalves during the assault. The first, a passing driver, pulled over and yelled at Goncalves to stop. Goncalves responded by saying he had a gun in his backpack that he would use to shoot both the driver and the victim if he didn’t leave, though authorities would later say Goncalves did not have any firearms during the incident.

The second person to intervene was an employee of the Holiday Inn who found Goncalves strangling the woman in the hotel’s parking lot. She began pulling Goncalves’ arms off the woman’s neck, though he continued strangling his victim after regaining his grip.

“The rage was also relentless,” Murphy’s decision read. “Mr. Goncalves was focused on continuing his assault on (the victim) and would resist anyone who got in his way.”

Goncalves was being held at the Kennebec County Correctional Facility in Augusta as of Wednesday afternoon. A sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled.

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