Judge rules escape charge against convicted murderer Cavalcante can proceed to trial

KENNETT SQUARE, Pa. (AP) — A district judge said Friday that Pennsylvania prosecutors have sufficient grounds to continue to press escape and other charges against a convicted murderer captured last year after two weeks on the run.

The judge found there is enough evidence to forward to county court for trial all of the charges against Danilo Cavalcante, including burglary, trespassing and car theft.

Cavalcante's escape from the Chester County Prison on Aug. 31, captured on video, involved scaling a wall, climbing over razor wire and jumping from a roof. Authorities said that during the extensive manhunt for him, Cavalcante stole a transit van. He's also accused of burglarizing homes in an area of southeastern Pennsylvania, stealing a rifle, ammunition, clothing, a sleeping bag and other items.

A message seeking comment was left with the Chester County public defender's office, listed on the court docket as representing Cavalcante.

Cavalcante, 34, did not testify Friday. He is a native of Brazil and prosecutors have said he killed ex-girlfriend Deborah Brandao to stop her from telling police about charges against him there in connection with a 2017 slaying.

Cavalcante had been sentenced to life for killing Brandao in front of her children in 2021 when he escaped from custody while awaiting transfer to a state prison.

He was captured when a plane's thermal imaging camera detected his heat signal. Teams on the ground secured the area, surrounded him and moved in with search dogs.

The Chester County jail is roughly 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of Philadelphia.