BEVERLY — Charles "Chucky" Doucette told police officers that he feared he was going to prison for the rest of his life when they arrested him near his home Monday.
The fear wasn't simply because of the charges Doucette, 51, of Peabody, faces following a domestic dispute with his girlfriend.
It's because Doucette is out on parole for the 1987 murder of a Salem man, Raymond Bufalino.
Whether Doucette will go back to prison for the rest of his life following his arrest is a decision up to the state's Parole Board. But Monday's arrest is once again sparking outcry at the board's practice of releasing violent convicts who have been sentenced to multiple life terms in prison.
Yesterday, Doucette pleaded not guilty at his arraignment at Salem District Court to charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (a motor vehicle), threatening to commit a crime, and witness intimidation. He will be held without bail until a dangerousness hearing on Feb. 24.
Police said Doucette dragged his girlfriend down the road as she leaned into his truck grabbing onto his sweatshirt. He later threatened to put a "bullet in her head" if she called the police, according to the police report.
Monday's arrest is not the first time Doucette has been in trouble since his parole four years ago. Eighteen months after his release, he was arrested in Haverhill and charged with raping a woman, but that charge was later dropped.
However, Doucette's parole earned the scorn of his murder victim's family.
At the time, Margaret Spenlinhauer, Bufalino's aunt, called Doucette's parole "a travesty of justice."
"A life is a life," Spenlinhauer said after the Parole Board's decision was announced. "How hard is it to understand that a life sentence should be a life sentence?"
In 2007, the murder victim's wife, Shauna Rollins of North Andover, recalled watching the Parole Board hearing in late 2006 and board members grilling Doucette.
"I felt sure they were going to deny him parole," Rollins said.
The Parole Board's release of Doucette, a violent offender who had been serving multiple life sentences, has parallels with a high-profile controversy from late last year: the Dec. 26 shooting of Woburn Patrolman Jack Maguire.
In that case, Middlesex County prosecutors said career criminal Dominic Cinelli, who was paroled two years before the shooting, killed Maguire in a gun battle following a jewelry heist at Kohl's. Like Doucette, Cinelli had an extensive criminal record and was serving multiple life sentences.
The controversy surrounding Cinelli's release led to the resignations of all Parole Board members who voted to let him out of prison.
But, unlike the case of Cinelli, prosecutors from the district attorney's office were notified of Doucette's parole hearing and were present to argue against releasing him.
Prosecutors not only cited the Bufalino murder, but two home invasions — one in Lynnfield involving a family grieving the death of a young son, and the other in Peabody, in which a stun gun was used — Doucette committed while he was awaiting trial. The crimes were included as part of a 1991 plea deal that resulted in Doucette being sentenced to seven life terms in prison.
An assistant district attorney told the Parole Board at the time that Doucette "defines a career criminal."
In the murder case, Doucette shot Bufalino twice in the head near Harmony Grove Cemetery by the Peabody line after the victim refused to waive a workers' compensation claim against Doucette's father's Canal Street gas station. Bufalino had been injured while working at the gas station and filed a claim, only to learn Doucette's father didn't have the required insurance.
Doucette's most recent arrest also has violence at its center.
According to police, on Monday evening, a dispute between Doucette and his girlfriend was sparked at River Street Grille in Beverly, when Doucette walked in and grabbed his girlfriend's house keys.
Doucette's girlfriend left the bar, and she arrived at Doucette's residence before him, subsequently telling police she might have sideswiped a car on her way there.
The victim told police that, once Doucette showed up, he said she was not allowed inside. She said she leaned into Doucette's truck and grabbed his sweatshirt, pleading with him to let her in the house. Doucette, though, started to drive away while she was holding on, the victim told police.
At least one local lawmaker is saying it's high time that Doucette and other violent offenders are locked up for good when they're sentenced to life behind bars.
Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, is sponsoring a bipartisan bill along with Methuen Democrat Steven Baddour to reform parole in Massachusetts.
One aspect of the bill eliminates the possibility of parole for anyone serving more than one life sentence and makes prisoners serving one life sentence have to serve a minimum of 25 years instead of 15.
"You have someone who committed murder, armed home invasion, and even with that pattern of behavior he is granted parole, and this is inexplicable and inexcusable," Tarr said.
Staff writer Bruno Matarazzo Jr. can be reached at 978-338-2525 or by e-mail at email@example.com.