New Bedford man held without bail for Dartmouth murder

Dec 28, 2018

Robert A. Rose, 48, of New Bedford, has been held without bail for the first degree murder of Joseph Tavares of Fall River on Dec. 22 behind a hotel on Faunce Corner Road, and witness intimidation.

Deputy District Attorney William McCauley presented the state’s narrative of the event to Judge James McGovern in New Bedford District Court around noon on Dec. 28:

Rose and Tavares knew each other and had a relationship that revolved around drugs. Tavares sold marijuana and cocaine, and the pair had previously met at the Regency Hotel parking lot where Tavares was killed.

On the night of the event, Tavares and Rose exchanged 19 text messages as they arranged to meet up. Rose left his girlfriend’s house, saying he wanted to buy some cigarettes, before driving to Dartmouth. He then wandered around the nearby Kohl’s store to “kill time” before the meeting. Rose and his vehicle were recorded on multiple surveillance cameras at and inside Kohl’s.

At 10:13 p.m., Tavares texted Rose to let him know he had arrived. At 10:22, Rose replied “k,” indicating to Tavares that he was on his way. He then drove closer to the location of the meeting, as is recorded on surveillance cameras, and parked at the Texas Roadhouse restaurant before walking over to Tavares’s car.

Surveillance video shows Rose approach Tavares’s car and get in to the passenger seat, where he remained for less than a minute, during which time hotel guests reported hearing arguing, followed by broken glass.

Rose shot Tavares twice in the head and once in the neck at close range, indicated by stippling. He then got out of the car and fired once more from the driver’s side. Police found a shell on the ground on the driver’s side that could not be explained by the shots from inside the car.

Rose then fled the scene. Within three minutes of the shooting, Rose’s car was observed pulling out onto Faunce Corner Rd. toward Wareham, where he went to see a friend and shut off his phone for the next two days before returning to his girlfriend’s house on Monday.

Rose appears to have been motivated by either drugs or money, although he did not rob the victim.

Rose admitted to police that he owed Tavares money. Tavares was found with more than $1,000 in his pocket and drugs packaged for distribution in the back seat.

Police connected the homicide to Rose after reviewing Tavares’s text messages, which indicated a meeting with Rose around the time of the murder. Rose drove to meet with police in a different vehicle than he had driven on the 22nd, and denied meeting with Tavares. Rose also claimed that he had lost his cell phone before or after the time of the homicide, along with his jacket and wallet, although he claimed to have no recollection of when or where he lost those items.

Rose pled not guilty. He has an eleven page record, including incarceration, violating probation, and drug-related offenses.

After McCauley presented the state’s case, Rose’s defense attorney presented a rebuttal.

Murphy argued that the state was leaning too heavily on surveillance footage and its “generic description” of Rose’s attire as seen on surveillance filmed inside Kohl’s — dark pants, a hooded sweatshirt, a brimmed hat, and shoes with white soles. He also argued that it was possible the state was mistaking Rose for someone else, especially in the footage recorded on outdoor surveillance cameras, which may be in low lighting.

Murphy was also unsatisfied by the description of Rose’s light colored car, which police did not identify by make, model, or license plate number.

Murphy suggested $25,000 bail, emphasizing Rose’s many family connections to the area, which might make him less likely to flee, along with the fact that he is currently unemployed, and his family would likely be unable to raise the bail money.

McCauley retorted that the state had other strong evidence, including the text messages, and reiterated his request for no bail due to the strength of the case.

Murphy asked why, if Rose was motivated by a desire for drugs or money, would he leave the cash and drugs in the car?

McCauley replied that what begins as a robbery is often left incomplete, as it is difficult to predict a person’s reaction to killing someone. Additionally, the scene was very graphic and bloody, and there were witnesses who looked out of the hotel window less than ten feet away from the car.

About a dozen family members and friends of the deceased crowded the courtroom, many of whom were visibly distraught or crying throughout the proceedings. After Judge McGovern denied Rose bail, one of the family members rose and began yelling at Rose, before being quickly escorted out of the room by the bailiff.

Outside the courthouse, District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III decried the homicide as being “another senseless killing.”

“Drug dealing and drug transactions unfortunately often lead to senseless violence,” Quinn said.

Quinn emphasized the importance of surveillance footage in solving this kind of case.

“Surveillance is critical,” Quinn said. “When you see something on surveillance, it’s cemented in your mind.

Detective Kyle Costa of the Dartmouth Police Department said the department was very pleased with the outcome of the arraignment, and that the investigation was “a great team effort.”

The probable cause hearing for this case is scheduled for January 25.