Portions of Silva-Larios’ statements tossed
Some of what Hugo Silva-Larios told law enforcement officers the night he was arrested on suspicion of murder will not be admissible at his trial.
Fourteenth Judicial Judge Michael O’Hara ruled Wednesday that Silva-Larios, who is accused of shooting 32-year-old James Pogline, was properly advised of his rights and legally waived them. But he also ruled that Silva-Larios was questioned illegally after he asked to stop the interrogation.
Silva-Larios was questioned in connection with a shooting that occurred the night of Oct. 22. His attorney, Kristopher Hammond, set two motions before the court: One dealing with the admission of physical evidence and the other with the admission of statements Silva-Larios made to police the night of his arrest.
O’Hara ruled Tuesday that two weapons found in a vehicle Silva-Larios was driving were discovered lawfully. The argument on the second motion continued into the afternoon hours on Wednesday.
Hammond argued that 16-year-old Silva-Larios’ father, who was with him when he was questioned, did not act in his son’s best interests. In fact, Hammond said several times that Hugo Silva-Chavez was acting more in the police’s best interests.
“If you look at the tape, you can see there is no way you can conclude the father was acting on behalf of the child during the interview,” Hammond said. “The police asked dad to help because they felt dad was on their side, not his son’s side. Everything he (did was) to advance the police’s interests, not his son’s.”
O’Hara ruled that encouraging his son to speak did not mean Silva-Chavez didn’t know what he was doing.
“There is nothing nefarious about encouraging a child to tell the truth even if the consequences are dire,” he said. “In hindsight, those of us schooled in the law may disagree with the decision he made, nevertheless, that doesn’t make his decision infirm.”
Several times during the video taped interview, Silva-Chavez told his son to answer the questions — at times asking them himself — and told him often and vehemently to “tell the truth.”
Silva-Chavez testified that he believed that if his son just told the truth, he would be released.
Hammond also argued that Silva-Chavez was not told — though he repeatedly asked — why his son was being arrested.
Though it didn’t change his decision, it was an argument that concerned O’Hara.
“It is troubling to this court that law enforcement officers refused to answer the question ‘why is my son here? What is he charged with?'” he said. “It does seem to this court that the better practice would be to tell him … however, I don’t find that to be a fatal error.”
Officers aren’t legally required to tell a suspect why he or she has been arrested before beginning an interrogation.
O’Hara did rule, however, that at the point Silva-Larios stood up and said that he didn’t want to talk anymore officers should have ceased questioning him. Or, he said, they should have re-advised him of his rights before continuing to question him.
O’Hara ruled that all the statements Silva-Larios made after that point are inadmissible at the trial, which is scheduled to begin Aug. 1.
That ruling may have little effect on prosecutors’ case. According to the transcripts of the interrogation, Silva-Larios’ already had admitted to firing a weapon and shooting toward Pogline.
That portion of the interview will be admitted at trial. The trial will begin next month and is scheduled to last 10 days. Because of the nature of the case, the length of the trial, the publicity surrounding it and the people involved, nearly twice the number of jurors have been called. Nearly 180 potential jurors received summonses and O’Hara expects around 80 percent to respond.
Silva-Chavez has been a permanent resident in the United States since 1985. His son moved here from Mexico 10 months ago.
Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210 or by e-mail at email@example.com
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Craig and Moffat County make the Craig Press’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User