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John Anthony SILVA

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Juvenile (15)
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: May 26, 2000
Date of arrest: 4 days after
Date of birth: 1984
Victim profile: Jerry Lee Alley Jr., 12
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Interlachen, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced life in prison without parole on March 14, 2001
 
 
 
 
 
 

Boy gets life, no parole, for strangling playmate

John Silva, 15, hid the body of the 12-year-old in a septic tank. A judge will recommend a juvenile prison.

St. Petersburg Times

March 16, 2001

PALATKA -- A 15-year-old boy was sentenced Thursday to life in prison without parole for strangling a younger playmate and dumping his body into a dry septic tank.

John Silva, who showed no reaction to the sentence, was tried as an adult and convicted of first-degree murder. The body of his victim, 12-year-old Jerry Lee Alley Jr., was found hog-tied at the bottom of the tank last May.

A note found with the body included the lines, "strip to underware," "tie up hands," "gag" and "cover eyes." Investigators said it was written by Silva, who was a neighbor and schoolmate of Alley in a rural neighborhood of Interlachen, about 15 miles west of Palatka in northeast Florida.

"Jerry was a special boy," said his grandmother, Anne Alley. "Our lives have changed forever. If you kill somebody there is a consequence."

Jerry Alley, whose parents were divorced, lived with his grandparents, who had adopted him.

Assistant State Attorney Garry Wood said he thought Silva would kill again if he were freed from prison. "John Silva is getting what he deserved," he said after sentence was passed.

Last week, a 14-year-old Miami boy, Lionel Tate, was ordered to serve the rest of his life in prison without parole for killing a 6-year-old girl his mother was babysitting. At his trial, defense attorneys argued that Tate accidentally killed Tiffany Eunick in July 1999 while imitating pro wrestling moves he had seen on television.

Public backlash over that life sentence led to Tate's speedy transfer from an adult prison to a maximum-security juvenile facility north of Lake Okeechobee, and to pressure for Gov. Jeb Bush to consider commuting his sentence. Amnesty International voiced concern about the case.

No such public campaign has come together over Silva's sentencing.

Only Silva's mother, Cynthia Silva, has asked that her son be sent to a juvenile facility, and Circuit Judge A.W. Nichols agreed to ask the state to do that.

"I still do not feel he did this crime," Silva said. "He is immature. He is book smart, but he is not street smart. He does not understand most of the process and what is going on."

Nichols denied motions for a new trial and for a judgment of acquittal. He also rejected Assistant Public Defender John Stephenson's argument that sentencing juveniles to life in prison without parole is unconstitutional.

Alley's grandfather, Marvin Alley, has been hospitalized with post-traumatic stress syndrome and is still having trouble dealing with the slaying.

"I've got such a hollow pit in my life," he said.

The Alley and Silva families, who embraced after the verdict last month, were not as warm Thursday.

"I have no animosity toward the Silva family," Anne Alley said. "Hatred and animosity are wasted emotions."

Jurors in the trials of both Tate and Silva had the option of considering second-degree murder or manslaughter convictions.

 
 

Murder in Interlachen

True crime

by Judy Dixon

KudzuMonthly.com

September 2001

Jerry Lee was just a little boy, a twelve-year-old who loved Pokemon cards, repairing bicycles, Nintendo, playing his flute and, most of all, his grandparents. He was just a little boy who loved life despite having been abandoned by his parents, and despite taunts of "homo" and "faggot" by some of the infamous school bullies in reference to his small stature and gentle nature.

Jerry Lee had a dimpled smile that put everybody at ease. His teachers praised him for his hard work and cooperation; the adults who knew him valued his manners and his easy-going and friendly attitude. He had been given a special award in band for practice over and above the call of duty. He wanted to be sure he would perform his best in the concert scheduled for the following Tuesday.

He lived in Interlachen, Florida, a tiny community just thirty miles from the sprawling, college town of Gainesville. It is a town that houses ancient mansions on one side and mobile homes on the other. A community so small that everybody knows everybody, it is nestled among old oak trees and a vast supply of lakes where tourists and retirees can feel at peace; a community that is safe.

And, Jerry Lee Alley died there, the victim of a senseless and brutal murder. But, even more shocking was who had taken little Jerry Lee's life.

On Friday, May 26, 2000, Jerry Lee did what most kids did in Interlachen after school. He kissed his grandpa, slung his backpack over his shoulder, climbed aboard his precious black and red bicycle and went out to ride around the sandy, dirt roads near his house. When six o'clock and dinnertime rolled around, his grandparents knew that something was terribly wrong - their dependable, predictable baby didn't come home. He was afraid of the dark. They knew he would never stay out late.

Marvin Alley searched for his grandson; he went everywhere the boy could have gone. He made two trips to the Silva house. John Anthony Silva, a fifteen-year-old who attended the same middle school as Jerry Lee was one of his newest friends. Their friendship had begun over a Nintendo game and was cemented at the Pokeman Trading Card Club that met at C. H. Price Middle School.

John lived only a short distance from the Alleys in a mobile home with his mother, his sister, and his grandparents. John said he hadn't seen Jerry Lee at all. Then, he said a very strange thing to a friend of his sister's who was at the house: "What a terrible way to die." Nobody knew that Jerry Lee was dead.

Partly because of his age, and partly due to the fact that everybody who knew Jerry Lee was sure that he wouldn't voluntarily leave, the authorities launched an immediate search. There was no 24-hour waiting period, just immediate action with tracking dogs, helicopters, firemen, policemen and hundreds of civilian volunteers. For three days, they diligently combed every inch of the ubiquitous wooded areas that surrounded Interlachen; every one of the many lakes and streams and every abandoned lot within the city. The same three torturous days, Anne and Marvin Alley prayed each time their phone rang. Prayed it would be Jerry, but knowing that after this long, it wouldn't. It appeared that he would never be found. But for a discarded automobile and a strange dream, Jerry Lee might have spent his eternity in a cast off septic tank.

Police headquarters received a call that a car had been sitting for a couple of days in a field that was littered with discarded furniture, car parts, and all manner of items that had outlived their usefulness. They immediately dispatched an officer, hoping it may lead to some information in the disappearance of Jerry Lee.

The area had previously been searched, but nothing had turned up. A policeman, checking out two sets of bicycle tracks had even walked beside a commercial pallet on the ground. There was an ominous, offensive odor permeating the area, but he passed it off as the garbage strewn about. The pallet appeared to him to be simply lying on the ground. He had no reason to believe it covered a hole large enough to hold a body. The car turned out to be disabled from broken tie rods with a note attached that it was to be hauled away. But, Dawn Bachman, another Interlachen resident, arrived with a strange story while the investigators were still there.

She knew that she would be suspect. She feared that she would be ridiculed, but she was so disturbed by her dream from the night before that she decided she would take the risk. (In fact, during the trial, the defense attorney hinted that her knowledge didn't come from a dream, but it was only a ploy to cast reasonable doubt.) She knew little Jerry Lee and her dream had told her where he was. On this same piece of land there existed an abandoned septic tank that the kids used for a fort. It had steps leading down and was a great place to hide. In her dream, she saw Jerry Lee's battered body inside.

The volunteer fireman she garnered didn't want to believe her; he knew that the land had been thoroughly scoured the day before. She was insistent. If necessary, she would check it herself, but she was terrified at what she would find. They walked through a forest of trees and passed a ragged, rain-soaked orange couch; they passed the remains of a burned out mobile home; they arrived at the industrial pallet the policeman had ignored. "Move it," Dawn insisted.

When the volunteer fireman pushed the pallet aside, he knew their search for Jerry Lee had come to an end. He shined his light into the deep, dark hole beneath the pallet. The small, crumpled body of Jerry Lee Alley lay beneath his treasured red and black bicycle and it was apparent that he had been dead for several days.

Jerry's body was found with his hands tied behind his back and to his ankles with an Ace bandage, the medical type used to support sprained limbs. He was, in fact, "hog-tied." Another Ace bandage and an electrical cord were wound around his throat; the bandage, tightly wrapped four times and the electrical cord tied in a loose slipknot. Even though the cord was loosely tied, the knot pressed hard enough against his skin to leave pressure marks and cause an internal, linear hemorrhage. His pants and underwear were pulled below his buttocks, and his pants pockets had been cut. The autopsy revealed that little Jerry had died of strangulation only hours after going off to ride around the unpaved, sandy, forest-lined streets that he called home. And, despite the appearance of his clothing, there was no evidence that Jerry had been raped.

Inside the septic tank along with Jerry's remains and his bicycle, the investigators uncovered his empty, green backpack, three Pokemon cards, and an odd note, penned in blue ink on lined, notebook paper. The words on the note were badly spelled. It said:

  • LIST TO PREPAIR JAREY

  • STRIP TO UNDERWARE +RAP IN TOWER

  • TIE HANDS

  • GAG

  • COVER EYES

No one was able to determine what the phrase "rap in tower" meant unless it was intended to read "wrap in towel." The other lines were ominously clear.

Investigators, acting on the appearance of Jerry's clothing, obtained alibis and cleared all known sex offenders in the area, in spite of the lack of rape evidence. The possibility existed that someone had been interrupted. However, no matter which they way they went, the trail kept leading in only one direction: too many people believed that the Silva house was the last place Jerry Lee had been seen alive.

Stephanie Taylor finally confided to the police that John Silva had been acting strangely on the afternoon of Jerry Lee's disappearance. He had left the house immediately behind Jerry Lee with a brown paper bag on the handlebars of his bike, was gone only about half an hour, and returned dirty and sweaty without the paper bag. He had been unusually quiet until the off hand remark, "What a terrible way to die." This information gave the police the break they needed; the day after finding Jerry Lee's body, John Anthony Silva was arrested. As unbelievable as it was to all concerned, it appeared that 15-year-old John Silva had murdered his unsuspecting friend.

Under the friendly, gentle tone of the interrogators, John Silva's story kept changing. "I didn't see him at all;" "We left together to look for another friend and he rode off with them;" "It was probably some pervert with a car." That raised a red flag to the investigators -- the condition of Jerry Lee's clothing hadn't been released. Finally, at the end of the second hour of questioning, John Silva said he had a message for Jerry Lee's grandparents. "Tell them I didn't mean for this to happen. Tell them I'm sorry."

However, his confession produced a scenario of events that could not have been. He said that he and Jerry were riding their bikes looking for a friend when they stopped at the septic tank, known to the local kids as "The Fort," to wrestle and Jerry had been hurt in the rough play. John took Jerry down into the tank to "cool down," something Jerry frequently did when he was angry. On the way down the steps into the tank, Jerry fell and hit his head. Amid tears and sniffles, John continued. "I tried to stop Jerry's head from bleeding so much with an Ace bandage. I had the bandage with me because I injured my leg a few weeks ago. I tried to keep Jerry awake. I tied his hands in front of him to keep him from getting hurt. Then, I got scared. I left him there after I threw his book bag and bicycle in after him."

John also stated that he had attempted to stanch the blood flow from Jerry's head with another Ace bandage, which he threw away at the site. He was sure Jerry was dying because of the great amount of blood that was coming from the head injury. No bloodied Ace bandage was located anywhere near the death scene. John said he spent at least twenty minutes with Jerry inside the tank. He covered the tank with the wooden pallet and partial septic tank cover before he left him there. When asked why he hadn't called for help, he said he panicked.

The detectives didn't tell John at that time that his story didn't gel. They didn't remind him that Jerry's hands were tied behind his back and joined to his ankles and that the medical examiner found no head wounds during the autopsy. They didn't tell him that his fingerprints, along with Jerry Lee's, were the only ones found on the bizarre note. They didn't tell him that the handwriting and writing style matched his from papers they had obtained from school.

John's mother said she had seen the note two or three days prior to the incident and that he had told her it was a practical joke. Why didn't this raise red flags for her? No mother wants to believe her young child is a murderer; she accepted his explanation at face value. She said that John was an excellent speller, so it had to be a joke. But, the school papers proved that he consistently crossed out misspelled words, rewrote them correctly, then misspelled them again in the same paper. Just like the words on the note; towel had been crossed out and rewritten as tower. Her information, which was intended to help, actually gave the investigators the information they needed to prove premeditation.

John Anthony Silva, although only fifteen, would be tried as an adult. The heinous nature of his crime and the premeditation removed any hope he had of a juvenile facility. The jury would not be called upon to determine guilt; there was no question that John was Jerry's killer. It would only be up to them to decide if it had been premeditated murder, manslaughter, or an accident, as John had claimed in his taped confession. The best that the defense could hope to do was to create reasonable doubt or negate John's responsibility in Jerry's gruesome death and convince the jury that fate had been in the hands of rough play.

The grand jury handed down a decision: the evidence was sufficient to support the state's charge of first-degree murder. There were numerous postponements and it wasn't until February 2001, a full eight and a half months after Jerry Lee's death that a trial finally began.

In his first court appearance, John had displayed no emotion or remorse when he entered his plea of "Not Guilty." He didn't appear to appreciate the seriousness of his crime. He expected to be treated as a child. He was sure they would accept his explanation of an accident. His demeanor, however, changed considerably during the trial. He began to realize that being fifteen would only save him from the death penalty, not from spending the rest of his life in prison. He covered his face and sobbed when poster-sized crime scene photos were shown. He was "the thief that wasn't sorry he had stolen, only that he had been caught." It took the jury just two hours to reach a verdict. He nearly collapsed and had to be supported by his defense team when "Guilty of First-Degree Murder" was read. He would spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole, being incarcerated in a secure juvenile facility until he reached the age of 21.

After the verdict was read and John had been led away to begin his sentence, Marvin Alley embraced Cynthia Silva, John's sobbing mother. He held neither bitterness nor grudge toward this woman. As the Alleys left the courtroom that day, clutching the sixth grade picture of their grandson, Anne told a reporter "This was a bittersweet victory. Two boys were lost."

Band instruments have been purchased in Jerry Lee's name. A tree has been planted bearing a plaque in his memory. The residents of Interlachen have lost some of the trust they have always had in their safe community. No one is sure in whom they can now place their confidence. They tend to keep their children a little more tightly reined in. No one, not even John, knows what caused him to snap that day. There were speculations that the Pokemon trading cards had caused trouble; there was the hint of a girl they both liked; neither motive had any basis. The appearance of Jerry Lee's clothing could bring about a sexual motive, but that was never addressed. John had no malice toward his friend that anyone could ascertain. There appeared to be no jealousy between them. They hadn't even had an argument. They were just two boys going out to play with only one coming back alive.

 
 

Fla. v. Silva: Teen charged with murder of 12-year-old Pokemon collector

FullofBologna.com

When a 12-year-old boy disappeared from his Interlachen, Fla., neighborhood, so did his Pokemon cards.

And when Jerry Alley's dead body was discovered in a septic tank, strangled with an Ace bandage, a teen-aged Pokemon card collector became the prime suspect.

John Anthony Silva, a 15-year-old friend of the victim, was soon charged as an adult with first-degree murder. He found himself in Judge A.W. Nichols' courtroom in Palatka, Fla., fighting for his own life, since a first-degree murder conviction in Florida carries a mandatory life prison sentence without the possibility of parole.

THE DISAPPEARANCE

After returning home from school on May 26, 2000, Jerry Alley grabbed his backpack and his red and black bicycle and went out at around 3:30 p.m.

Though he was supposed to be home by 6 p.m., Jerry never returned. His grandfather and legal guardian, Marvin Alley, grew concerned and went out to look for the boy at around 6:30 — including two stops to the home of one of Jerry's friends, John Silva. Silva and Alley had a common interest in collecting and trading Pokemon cards. On both occasions, Silva said he had not seen Alley since he got off the school bus.

Local police began searching for Jerry later that night, and search dogs, state police and the FBI joined in the search the following day with no success of finding the preteen.

DREAM LEADS TO THE BODY

Three days after Jerry Alley disappeared, Dawn Marie Bachman reported she had a dream in which she saw Jerry — whose face she had seen over the previous few days on missing person's flyers — sitting in an abandoned septic tank in a vacant lot.

Bachman recognized the location as a litter-strewn lot she knew was in a wooded area approximately two miles from the Alley home. Kids from the area regularly played in the empty septic tank, using it as a fort.

At first, Ms. Bachman apparently ignored her dream. But when she saw Jerry's face on a flier for a second time, she became disturbed and decided to drive to the vacant lot in question. Arriving at the scene, she noticed Thomas Pellicer, a volunteer fireman who was investigating a car that had been abandoned in the area. Bachman asked Pellicer if search teams had looked inside the septic tank. They hadn't — and when Pellicer pulled back some plywood sheets covering the tank, he made a grisly discovery.

Inside the septic tank was the body of Jerry Alley, partially covered with the victim's bicycle and some wooden pallets. Alley's body was discovered with an Ace elastic bandage around his neck. The same bandage was used to bound his hands behind his back. An autopsy later confirmed that Jerry had indeed died as a result of strangulation.

INVESTIGATION ZEROES IN

John Silva and Jerry Alley were both students at the same middle school and rode the same school bus every day. They shared an interest in Pokemon cards, and had traded such cards in the past. Marvin Alley reportedly told authorities that, despite the three-year difference in their ages, his grandson considered John Silva his best friend.

From the time of Jerry Alley's disappearance, authorities suspected John Silva knew more than he was telling Alley's grandfather about the boy's whereabouts.

Though John told Jerry's grandfather twice on May 26 that he had not seen the youth since he got off the bus hours earlier, Stephanie Taylor, a friend of John's sister, told a different story.

According to Taylor, Jerry Alley had shown up at the Silva house on the day in question, asking for John. She said she told John that Jerry had arrived; the next time she looked out the window, Jerry was gone. A few minutes later, she said, Silva himself left the house and rode off a his bicycle carrying a plastic shopping bag.

He returned approximately 30 to 35 minutes later without the plastic bag, Taylor claims. She didn't ask John where he had been, and Silva did not volunteer that information. But Taylor did notice that John was visibly sweating when he returned home.

The before Alley's body was discovered, Silva voluntarily submitted to questioning by authorities in the case. Despite the fact that he had denied seeing Jerry to the boy's grandfather, Silva admitted that Jerry had been at his house the afternoon he was last seen.

According to John Silva, Jerry Alley asked him if he knew where a sixth-grader named "Justin" lived; John claimed he told Jerry he didn't know the boy in question. He denied, however, that he had gone anywhere with Jerry that day.

The day after Alley's body was found, Silva again agreed to speak with authorities. In a three-and-a-half hour taped interview, Silva was again asked about what he might know about the disappearance and death of Jerry Alley.

At first, John Silva stuck to his story that Jerry Alley had come over to his home on Friday afternoon looking for Justin. He said he had originally planned to go riding with Jerry to try and help the younger boy find Justin, but had to turn back at the end of his driveway because one of the tires on his own bicycle was flat. He denied, however, ever carrying a plastic bag that afternoon.

For the next hour or so, John Silva continued to deny that he knew anything about Jerry Alley's death. But after incessant and careful questioning by authorities, his story began to change.

Silva soon conceded that he had indeed accompanied Alley to the vacant lot in question, a lot he admitted he often played. In fact, said John Silva, he sometimes climbed down into and hung out in the abandoned septic tank whenever he needed to "cool off."

According to John Silva, he and Jerry Alley were "fooling around" or play-wrestling near the septic tank when the younger boy fell and hit his head. Silva claimed that he encouraged Alley to climb down into the septic tank to rest — but as Jerry climbed down some makeshift stairs into the tank, he fell again, hitting his head once more.

Silva said that Jerry began to bleed profusely from his forehead and claimed that he used an Ace bandage he had with him to try to soak up the victim's blood. But when Jerry's breathing slowed down, John said he panicked and left his friend down in the hole.

He placed Jerry's bicycle and book bag on top of him, covered the tank's entrance with plywood, and went home.

For a long time, John Silva insisted that he had no memory whatsoever of binding Jerry Alley in any way. But when confronted with the fact that Alley's hands had been bound, Silva admitted to tying the victim's hands after he struck his head the second time "so he wouldn't hurt himself." But John claimed that he tied Jerry's hands in front -- not behind his back, as they were found.

And that admission is as far as John Silva would go. For the remainder of his interview, he insisted that he couldn't remember strangling or killing Jerry Alley, or even of purposely hurting him in any way.

Following the interrogation, John Anthony Silva was placed under arrest and charged with the murder of Jerry Alley.

THE PROSECUTION'S CASE

The prosecution, headed by Garry Wood, contended Silva's statement didn't match the physical evidence. When Jerry Alley's body was discovered on May 29, 2000, there was no blood at the scene and no injury to the victim's forehead. An Ace bandage had been wrapped around his neck and knotted four times; immediately on top of this bandage was an electric extension cord that was tight, but not constrictive. The same bandage around the neck had also been used to tie hands behind his back, then trailed down and around the boy's ankles.

In addition, Jerry's jeans and underwear had been pulled down to his upper thighs, exposing his buttocks. The pockets of his jeans had been cut out.

But the most damning piece of evidence found inside the septic tank was a piece of notebook paper in John Silva's own handwriting, and with Silva's fingerprints on it. The note — full of spelling errors — reads as follows:

List to prepair Jarey
Strip to underware & rap in tower
Tie up hands
Gag
Cover eyes

Prosecutors even lined up John's eighth grade language arts teacher to testify, who said she required her students to draw up similar plans called "mapping" for essays they were going to write.

Because it is was necessary for the prosecution to prove intent in order to get a first-degree murder conviction, the state didn't have to prove motive. They did, however, suspect the reason may have been because John wanted Jerry's Pokemon cards.

The victim's bookbag, found with his body, was empty — and his considerable Pokemon card collection, missing from his room, was never located. A large number of Pokemon cards were later discovered at the Silva home.

It is undisputed that John, too, had a Pokemon collection, but nobody else knows how many cards he owned prior to the killing, so there's no way to confirm or deny that any of the cards later located had originally belonged to Jerry.

THE DEFENSE

According to John Silva's defense attorney, Douglas Withee, the biggest problem with the prosecution's case was the timeline.

Stephanie Taylor claimed John was away from the Silva home for only 30 to 35 minutes on May 26 — and that it could take up to ten minutes to ride a bicycle to the vacant lot a half-mile away where Jerry was later discovered. The roads between the Silva house and the lot in question are not paved, but made up of extremely sandy red clay. It's difficult to ride a bike or even drive a car on such a surface, which would have made the time it took John to ride to and from the vacant lot even longer, the defense argued.

Assuming it took Silva a total of 20 minutes to ride to the lot and then return home, he would have been left with only 10 to 15 minutes to lure or force Jerry Alley into the septic tank, bound him thoroughly, laboriously strangled the boy and then covered the body. The defense contended there simply wasn't enough time.

The defense also said Silva's insistence to authorities that he cannot remember any other details about what happened could possibly mean the teen is covering up for the real killer out of fear. Withee said three brothers who reportedly live in the same area were known as bullies, and that police told Silva during his interrogation they had information he was seen with other boys around the time of the crime.

The problem with this theory, according to the prosecution, was the reference during Silva's interview to one or more other boys was simply made up to try to elicit information from the defendant.

The defense also points to Bachman's knowledge of where Alley's body was as another potential basis for reasonable doubt.

THE STAKES

If convicted of first-degree murder, the only sentence Nichols could have handed to Silva was life in prison without parole. The jury also had the option of acquitting him or finding him guilty Silva of second-degree murder or manslaughter.

 
 

John Anthony Silva

Sonic.net

Interlachen, FL -- May 31, 2000

A 15-year-old boy was arrested late Tuesday and charged in the death of a 12-year-old boy whose bound body was found in an empty septic tank three days after he disappeared, investigators said.

Jerry Lee Alley Jr., whose body was found late Monday at an abandoned house two miles from his home, had an elastic bandage around his neck and his hands bound behind his back, said Dr. Terrence Steiner.

John Anthony Silva, 15, of Interlachen, was arrested at about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday and charged with first-degree murder and kidnapping in the younger boy's strangulation death, the Putnam County Sheriff's Office announced.

"Silva's home was the last place Jerry was seen alive," according to a sheriff's office statement. "Several people at the house told of Silva leaving the residence after Jerry, and of Silva making remarks about the way Jerry died."

Silva "admitted to causing Jerry Alley's death. He also admitted to placing Jerry inside the abandoned septic tank and tying him up ..." the sheriff's statement said. "Silva did not offer any motive for his actions."

The boy was reported missing Friday evening. He was last seen riding his bicycle near Interlachen, a town about 50 miles southwest of Jacksonville. Steiner believes the boy was slain sometime that night.

A volunteer firefighter who was part of a search team found the boy's body and his bicycle in a septic tank 6 feet deep, said Putnam County Sheriff's Capt. Dick Shauland.

The FBI, Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the sheriff's office all took part in investigating the death.

Helicopters, tracking dogs and volunteers searched the sparsely populated area over the weekend for the boy. The FBI joined the search Sunday because authorities feared he had been kidnapped.

*****

June 1, 2000

The grandmother and guardian of Jerry Lee Alley Jr., found murdered Monday night, broke her media silence Wednesday to help make the coming days a "celebration" of her grandson's life.

Anne Alley said she and her husband, Marvin, have grieved together in private since learning her son's fate after he disappeared Friday touching off an intensive search involving dozens of local volunteers.

She said Putnam County Sheriff Taylor Douglas personally delivered the news of finding her grandson dead in an empty septic tank only two miles from home.

Then she learned the next day that a 15-year-old classmate at Price Middle School had been arrested and charged with her grandson's death, but she and her husband didn't recognize the accused boy's name.

Marvin Alley recognized the boy's picture on television and then came a flood of memories of encounters with Silva and Jerry that had occurred during this school year.

"Jerry trusted him. He was older. They rode the same school bus they were casual friends," Anne said. "The school bus didn't go to this boy's house and there were occasions when no one would pick up this boy, but my husband would stop in his pickup truck and give him a ride to his house."On at least one occasion, she said, Silva came to the Alley home and spent time with Jerry.

"I think they played Jerry's Nintendo games for awhile and then the boy went home," Anne said. "On three other occasions, Jerry requested permission to go to this boy's house and he would ride his bike. This was farther than we would normally let him go, but he always came home on time."

Anne recalled a chilling account of her husband encountering Silva Friday night while searchers were looking for their grandson.

"When he didn't come home when we expected him, my husband got in his pickup truck thinking he may have gone to this boy's home and on the way back his chain came off and he's walking home so he went to that boy's house," Anne said. "That boy told my husband he had not seen him and Jerry was already dead. My husband went back to the same house for a second time about 8 o'clock and asked him a second time if he had seen Jerry since he had gotten off the bus and the boy said 'no.' He looked my husband straight in the eyes and never batted on eye."

Anne said Jerry had three loves: He loved riding his bicycle, playing the flute and watching the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Anne said many of Jerry's schoolmates had come by their home offering expressions of sympathy.

"It's sad enough a friend was murdered so horribly. Then to find out a fellow student had done it that had ridden on the same bus and had the same classes with them," Anne said. "We have had many of the students come by really deeply broken up. I want them to know we are available to talk to all during the summer if it will help them."

Meanwhile, Anne expressed much gratitude toward the three law enforcement agencies working the case since Friday night, the community support and the personal attention of Sheriff Douglas.

"The sheriff has been wonderful. They took it serious from the start and they continued to be serious about it," said Anne. "He came out and stayed with us Monday night talking it out with us and helping us through it When the autopsy was over he called and let us know right away. He wanted to make sure we heard it first from him. He's been in constant contact with us."

"We are going to put up all of the posters and cards that the children in the schools have made. We want the children to feel they are participating in the program," Anne said. "We are hoping it will be a celebration of Jerry's life. My husband and I are asking for anyone that wants to give flowers we would much prefer that they give a donation in Jerry's name to the C.H. Price Middle School's Beginning Band. He so enjoyed the band near the end he was really getting good on the flute. He would sit out on the front porch and serenade the entire neighborhood."

Anne spoke openly about her grandson and the beginning of his thinking about becoming an adult.

"He loved people. He really enjoyed helping people," she said. "I told him at 12 years old you'll be an adult in six more years, you need to start thinking about what you want to be. A few days later he came out grinning and said he wanted to be a truck driver. I starting laughing. Some friend of his must have told him some romantic stories about life on the open road. I told him it wasn't all glamour."

Jerry, she said, was the type of boy to attempt to save injured animals found in the neighborhood.

"Jerry likes to pick up wounded birds and take them under his wing. He always did this," Anne said. "If he saw someone sitting by themselves in the cafeteria and look like they were upset or lonely he would always make a point of going over to them and talk. He was just that kind of kid."

Reflecting on the series of events since Friday, Anne said, "I had hoped our community would be spared some of this teen-age killing of each other. Hopefully this will be the last one."

*****

June 5, 2000

Price Middle School Principal Sandra Gilyard was not certain if she had spoken to Jerry Lee Alley Jr. on the day he died.

But she later recalled he had worn a Relay for Life T-shirt, and she had asked if he had participated in the event.

Gilyard said the 12-year-old sixth-grader responded no, but said his mother had walked in the annual American Cancer Society fund-raiser.

"So that brought me consolation," said the principal, who knew Alley and frequently had conversations with the student about "just the common everyday things you would talk about with everyday people."

Gilyard said many people are running a race, but for Jerry the race was only 12 years.

"Twelve years to some may not seem long enough, but in God's sight, Jerry finished his work here," she said.

Gilyard urged the approximately 500 people, including 28 family members, who gathered for Alley's memorial service in the school gym on Saturday morning not to take anyone for granted.

"He saw everyone as someone special," she said, referring to Alley.

"Thank you for sharing a fine young man with us, we salute him. . ." Gilyard said to Alley's family members.

Alley, described as helpful and a lot of fun, was slain at the beginning of the Memorial Day weekend. His body was found three days later, last Monday, in a dry septic tank about two miles from the home in Interlachen Lake Estates where he lived with his grandparents Marvin and Anne Alley.

John Silva, a 15-year-old classmate, was arrested last Tuesday and charged with his murder and kidnapping.

Alley's great-uncle, the Rev. Lloyd McClelland, also gave a tribute to the youth. McClelland said when Anne Alley asked him to speak at the service he thought "it would be too hard" because he was "close to him."

McClelland quoted scripture from Genesis 39:20 when Joseph was sold into slavery, adding "Somehow God makes it come out right."

He also quoted II Corinthians 5:1, and told the audience he believed his grand nephew is in Heaven.

"And I know as well as I stand here, Jerry is standing in Heaven in a glorious kingdom rejoicing with God," McClelland said.

"I know that God never left the side of our boy, and now Jerry will never have to leave His side again," he said to Alley's grandparents.

Students and friends also sent several of their own tributes, which were read by the Rev. Scott Morrison, a youth pastor at the First Baptist Church of Interlachen.

"I'm thankful for Jerry because he's a great friend and he would always be there when I was sad and in pain," Morrison read.

"I'm thankful for Jerry because he never gave up. he was kind and sweet," read another.

The Rev. Gene Maddox, who spoke on "The Power of a Christ-centered Choice," told the attendees "this week you and many others have experienced a wounding of darkness in our lives."

"We have seen it this week. We can call it the ripple effect, the power of a bad choice," said Maddox, who is pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Interlachen.

Maddox encouraged the crowd to: "Live close enough to Christ to be able to recognize the darkness even if it causes great pain."

Tribute music was provided by the Price Middle School band. Alley, who played flute, was a member of the band.

A praise team comprised of Opal Albert, Bethany Maddox and Carol Taylor, also led songs. The Jacksonville Jaguars, Alley's favorite football team, sent a written tribute, which was read by the Rev. Chris Kozlowski of the Bethel Assembly of God of Interlachen.

Dothea Smith, chairwoman of the Putnam County School Board, said she never knew Alley personally.

"But I feel by attending this service I've come to know him as the student that he really was, as a loving and caring student who cared for us more than himself. My heart and prayers go out to the family," Smith said.

School Superintendent David Buckles, who also attended the service, said: "I thought it was a beautiful ceremony in honor of such a fine young man that was so tragically taken from us."

*****

July 20, 2000

When investigators discovered the body of a missing Interlachen boy in May, they also found a handwritten note apparently detailing what to do with Jerry Lee Alley Jr., investigative reports show.

The note, a sheet of lined, white loose-leaf paper marked with blue ink, had a list on it with numerous words misspelled, documents from the Putnam County Sheriff's Office report.

"LIST TO PREPAIR JAREY," the first line of the note read. That was followed by "STRIP TO UNDERWARE + RAP IN TOWER," "TIE HANDS," "GAG," and, finally, on line five, "COVER EYES."

It could not be determined what "rap in tower" means or if it might mean "wrap in towel."

When the Florida Department of Law Enforcement analyzed the handwriting, it matched samples from John Anthony Silva, a 15-year-old Interlachen boy arrested in the murder and kidnapping of Alley, 12, his friend. Silva's fingerprints also were found on the note.

These details about Alley's murder were among about 600 pages of investigative and court records released by the State Attorney's Office for the 7th Judicial Circuit on Tuesday.

Prosecutors have said Silva admitted to causing Alley's death and hiding the body of the C.H. Price Middle School sixth-grader inside an abandoned septic tank on a vacant lot at the corner of Evans Avenue and Carr Street.

An autopsy report showed that Alley died of strangulation. Dr. Terrence Steiner of the Medical Examiner's Office in St. Augustine estimated Alley died only hours after he left his home on his bicycle.

On May 26, Alley failed to return home for supper on time after playing on his bike in his rural neighborhood. The search ended May 29 when Alley's body was found inside a dried-up septic tank used by area children as a fort.

On May 28, an officer with the Department of Corrections, Rex Ziegler, had walked through the same vacant lot with his dog, Peanut, tracking two sets of bicycle tracks from Silva's home. He spotted a concrete slab and smelled an odor. But Ziegler said the slab didn't look like it was covering an opening.

The next day, however, Interlachen resident Dawn Marie Bachman reported a dream she had in which she saw Alley sitting in a septic tank on the same piece of property her brother-in-law once considered buying. At that time, Bachman explained, her husband saw children playing in a septic tank under the slab.

The dream bothered Bachman so much that she decided to go to the lot, reports show. When she got there, she found volunteer firefighters checking an abandoned car. One of the firefighters, Chris Pellicer, went with her to the slab, where they found some wood over one end.

Looking inside, they found the boy and his red and black bicycle.

Investigators were led to Silva by friends who overheard him make remarks about Alley's death. At the time, no one knew whether Alley was dead or alive.

The documents, provided by prosecutors this week, don't offer a clear motive for Alley's death. State law exempts records revealing "the substance of a confession."

But handwritten notes from investigators do mention Alley's involvement in a Pokémon card club at his school and a girlfriend.

"A lot of people are saying it was over Pokémon," the notes read. "It might have been over girlfriend . . . If he was out of the way, she would go out with him."

The records also show that investigators looked at listed sex offenders who live in the area as possible suspects. They also talked to Alley's friends, questioning them about his activities at school and reports that he had been picked on by students.

Silva, an eighth-grader, will be tried as an adult. He could face life in prison without parole if convicted.

*****

UPDATE

Feb. 6, 2001

No one understands why the life of a well-liked 12-year-old remembered for his smile and love of the flute had to end so brutally.

Eight months ago, Jerry Lee Alley Jr. did what is part of many a child's after-school routine -- he rode his bike to a friend's house. On Friday, May 26, 2000, he rode off to visit John Silva, a friend who lived a few blocks away.

Jerry, who was always expected to be home by 6 p.m., never came home that night. Neighbors and police with bloodhounds searched throughout Interlachen Lakes Estates, a sparsely populated area of dirt roads and manufactured aluminum-siding homes where one can drive stretches of road without seeing a sign of life. 

Three days later, Jerry was found strangled in a dried underground septic tank. Fifteen-year-old Silva was charged as an adult with first-degree murder.

This morning, lawyers will begin selecting the jury that will decide whether Silva should spend the rest of his life in prison without parole for the slaying of his schoolmate and friend.

Learning why someone would kill him will not bring Jerry back. It could, however, give his family, teachers and neighbors some understanding of why his life ended the way it did.

Yet to this day, no motive has been determined, said Putnam County Sheriff Taylor Douglas. As with many heinous crimes, rumors about why Jerry died circulated throughout Interlachen: He was killed out of revenge. He was killed over a girlfriend. He was killed for Pokemon cards.

During a search of Silva's home, police seized an assortment of Pokemon items, including two three-ring binders containing cards, a trading card game board and a black and gray backpack. 

"We all want a 'Why'," said Cheryl Heymann, Jerry's reading and language arts teacher at C. H. Price Middle School. "We are looking for a why, trying to understand it."

Kids tend to tattle on each other, said Sandra Gilyard, principal of the middle school. When kids fight, they will typically tell who started it, who hit the other first, who made the mean remark that sparked the argument. Usually, Gilyard said, kids will say, "I know why this happened, I know why they did it."

But regarding Jerry's disappearance and death, no motive was mentioned by any of the schoolchildren.

Tire tracks in front of a weather-beaten memorial on the corner of Evans Avenue and Carr Street hint that the desolate site is still visited, that people sometimes stop for a moment to guess at their own reasons why a local teen is about to be tried for one of the worst crimes Interlachen, if not all Putnam County, has ever known.

Dried bouquets wrapped in green cellophane, a teddy bear with matted white fur, plastic flowers and a pocket-sized New Testament Bible sitting atop a block of sandstone at the edge of the abandoned lot carry on the memory of what police reports say may have taken place there that afternoon.

What happened?

Silva was Jerry's newest friend, Jerry's grandfather Marvin Alley told detectives, according to police files. Silva was an eighth-grader, Jerry in seventh. They began trading Pokemon cards, Alley said. Marvin Alley and his wife, Anne, Jerry's grandparents, had been his legal guardians since 1995. The boy's father lives out of state. Jerry didn't know his mother.

His grandfather, who had been raising Jerry for 10 years, said prosecutors asked him not to comment on the case because of the effect of pretrial publicity. Silva lived with his grandparents, mother and sister, who could not be reached for comment.

When Jerry didn't come home on time that Friday night, his grandfather started his own search. Alley checked the Silva house to see if his grandson was there and was told no one had seen Jerry, according to reports.

A little after 9 p.m., Alley reported Jerry missing to police. Douglas remembers the response of the community, how even though it was Memorial Day weekend, neighbors gave up their full weekend to help find Jerry.

It was an Interlachen woman's dream that brought the search to a sad close on Monday night. Dawn Bachman said she dreamt she saw Jerry playing inside the tank, which local children use as a fort when they play. She recognized the boy's face in the fliers and recognized the child in her dream.

Someone should check that tank, Bachman said she thought that day. But, uneasy about what she might find inside, she asked a fireman to accompany her. After removing plywood and a wood pallet covering the tank, fireman Chris Pellicer found Jerry's body inside, according to reports.

Jerry's body was found partially clothed, his neck, hands and legs bound with cord and elastic bandages. His red "Magna" bicycle, his green University of North Florida backpack, unzipped and empty, a pair of yellow scissors and a Pokemon trading card were also found inside the tank.

With these items, police also found a note written on loose-leaf paper reading "a list to prepair Jarey," "strip to underware + rap in tower," "tie up hands," "gag," and "cover eyes" next to Jerry's body.

Investigators identified Silva's fingerprint on the note and determined the handwriting was also likely his.

On the day Jerry disappeared, Stephany Taylor, a friend of Silva's sister, saw Silva leave his home with a plastic grocery bag on the handlebars of the bicycle, she told police the day after Jerry was found. She could not tell what was inside the bag. When Silva returned, Taylor said, he was dirty and sweaty, according to reports.

She also told police that after Jerry's grandfather came to the Silva home looking for his grandson, she and Silva's sister talked about where Jerry could have gone.

Silva interrupted their conversation, saying, "All I can say is that's a terrible way to die," according to reports.

Looking for reasons

Some residents, like Debra Spires, can't understand how a child could contemplate killing another child.

"I can't see a child having those kind of thoughts," said Spires, owner of Levi's bar in Palatka, who held an auction and a cookout to raise money for the middle school in Jerry's honor. She has lived in Interlachen for 20 years. "This is the worst I've ever seen. Everyone wants to see how the law handles this in Putnam."

But the trial, which prosecutor Garry Wood of the State Attorney's Office in Putnam County said is expected to last a week, may not reveal any reason at all. The prosecution cannot comment on how it will present the case to the jury, Woodm said.

Silva's lawyer, Douglas R. Withee, assistant public defender of the capital division of St. Johns and Putnam counties, said he cannot discuss the defense, but added that until Silva is proven guilty, he is presumed innocent.

Shortly after Silva's arrest, a judge granted the teen's lawyer's request that Silva be transported to Community Behavioral Services in Gainesville for a neurological evaluation, according to court records. 

The court also granted Withee's request to appoint a confidential expert from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Florida to conduct a sodium amytal interview to assist in Silva's defense. Sodium amytal is commonly known as "truth serum."

The results of those tests were unavailable.

Changed community

Little has been said by students at C. H. Price Middle School about Jerry's death and the trial, said Gilyard. School let out for the summer a few days after Silva was arrested, giving students and parents time to come to terms with the death of their schoolmate, she said.

Gilyard carries a picture of Jerry in her wallet. Not the photo of a younger Jerry shown on television and in the newspapers, but the class picture taken that spring, showing an older Jerry with longer hair, the Jerry she knew. The boy who used to come up to her and tell her about the school band while she stood outside the cafeteria.

The middle school has done what it could to begin healing after the death of one of its own.

A new euphonium and trombone were purchased with the $2,000 raised at Spires' fund-raiser. Two student awards will be established in Jerry's honor: an award for a member of the band and the Jerry Alley Citizenship Award.

Heymann said she wants to watch the trial to be sure she's prepared for questions from the kids.

"I wouldn't make it a class discussion," she said. "I wouldn't let it be. There's going to be plenty of speculation out there. I want to keep the speculation down and stick with the facts." 

While the trial will most likely attract the attention of those who knew Silva and Jerry, Gilyard said that she'd "rather not" follow it.

"It will never bring an end to it," Gilyard said of the trial. "There are two families here that suffered a loss. Either way, two families have been disrupted. It may bring justice, but not closure."

The jury that will decide whether 15-year-old John Anthony Silva should spend the rest of his life in prison in the slaying of his schoolmate was selected  after one day of questioning. 

Under Florida law, Silva cannot face the death penalty because of his age. 

Clean cut in a black suit and white dress shirt, Silva sat beside his attorney as the court questioned 42 potential jurors and narrowed them down to 14 by 5 p.m. The 12 jurors and two alternates, 10 women and four men, were selected. 

The victim's grandparents, Marvin and Anne Alley, attended the jury selection. No members of Silva's family attended, court officials said, but his mother was there before jury selection began to bring him clothes. 

Potential jurors were asked questioned whether they felt that Silva's age would be a factor in their decision and whether they felt that 15-year-olds are capable of committing adult crimes. 

Prosecutor Garry Wood expects to call 20 or fewer witnesses, including the victim's grandparents, Silva's mother, several officials from the Putnam County Sheriff's Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. 

Silva's attorney Douglas R. Withee, an assistant public defender, did not present a witness list during the selection. It is not known whether Silva will testify. 

*****

Feb. 8, 2001

Two hours into a police interview that began as a matter-of-fact, almost lighthearted talk about what could have happened to Jerry Lee Alley Jr., John Silva had a message for Marvin and Anne Alley about the slaying of their 12-year-old grandson: "I'm sorry. I didn't mean for this to happen."

The 3 1/2-hour interview taped on May 30 recounted a story of how the two boys rode off on their bikes looking for a friend, then instead, stopped to wrestle at the septic tank where Jerry Alley's body was found on May 29.

As the prosecution played the interview to the court over loudspeakers, Silva's posture reflected his taped voice. He sat back, chin in hand, one knee up, relaxed, then, as his voice broke into sobs and sniffles on the tape recorder, he covered his face with his hand. Silva, 15, is on trial for first-degree murder, accused of killing his friend, then hiding the body in a dry septic tank. The boy had been missing for three days.

At one point while they were wrestling with each other, Jerry was hurt while they were playing, Silva told Putnam County police detective John Merchant and Florida Department of Law Enforcement agent Jeanine Williams. 

So Silva took him down into the tank to "cool off." The underground septic tank was a place where Silva used to go to "get away, to cool off" when he was mad, he told them. On his way into the tank, Jerry fell and hit his head, Silva said as he sniffled and cried. 

He tried to stop his friend's head from bleeding profusely with an Ace bandage. Silva said he carried the bandage with him because his own leg was injured a few weeks ago. 

He tried to keep Jerry awake so he wouldn't go to sleep. He was afraid that Jerry would hurt himself, so he tied Jerry's hands in front of him. When Jerry's body was found, his hands were tied behind his back.

And then, Silva said, he left him alone in the tank. He threw Jerry's book bag and his bicycle into the tank.

He left because he panicked. He covered up the tank, with his friend inside, with sheets of plywood and rode away. At home, he watched television. He said he tried to act as if nothing happened because he was scared.

That was all he could remember.

Still, the smooth, encouraging voices of Merchant and Williams asked for more details. 

"It's time to come man to man," Merchant said. "There's more to this. I know what happened and I wasn't even there."

Williams said: "We're lifting a burden off you right now." 

They questioned him over and over, repeating the same questions: Why didn't you call for him if he was hurt? Why did you hurt him? Why did this happen?

Silva repeatedly sobbed the same answers: "I don't know. I don't remember." 

Merchant told Silva he planned out Jerry's murder. Silva said he didn't remember planning anything. A handwritten note titled "list to prepair Jarey," found in the septic tank along with Jerry's body, was never mentioned during the interview. 

Williams asked Silva to spell Jerry's name. He spelled it properly, though it was misspelled in the note, which officials said was likely written by Silva. 

An investigator testified that both boys' fingerprints were on the note. Three came from Silva and one from the victim, according to Joseph Dorsey of the FDLE.

A medical examiner testified later in the trial that the boy died of strangulation after having a bandage and electrical cord tied around his neck. He found no sign of a head injury as described by Silva.

*****

VERDICT

Feb. 9, 2001

A 15-year-old was convicted of first degree murder Thursday for strangling a 12-year-old whose body was found in a dry septic tank pit two days after he disappeared.

The jury deliberated less than two hours before finding John Silva guilty. The 12 jurors had the option of considering a second-degree murder or manslaughter conviction.

The verdict, met with tears from both families, guarantees the Putnam County teen a mandatory life sentence, with no chance of parole. 

The victim's grandparents, Marvin and Anne Alley, embraced Silva's mother, Cynthia, immediately following the verdict. 

"We're all in pain over this," Anne Alley said outside the courtroom, holding her grandson's picture over her heart. "In one way it was what we hoped for, but in another it is not victory. We still don't have our son and now another mother has lost her son." 

She and her husband hugged Silva's mother because, Anne Alley said, they're both in pain and Cynthia Silva "hasn't had the outpouring of love that we received from the community." 

The Silva family did not want to comment on the ruling, said a court officer, who added they were waiting for someone to drive them home because they were too distraught. 

Silva's attorney, Douglas Withee, was unavailable for comment. At the end of the trial, he requested that one of his associates at the Public Defender's Office stand in for him at Silva's sentencing on March 15. Judge Arthur W. Nichols III requested that Withee be present with his client. 

Silva, who sat crying with his hands cupped over his face after the verdict was announced following two hours of deliberations, had to be supported by court officers as he was fingerprinted. 

"It's a sentence that will keep John Silva off the street so he won't be able to harm anyone again," prosecutor Garry Wood said. "He'll die in prison." 

The most damning evidence against Silva was the note left in the septic tank where the victim was found after being missing for two days, Wood said. "The note's inescapable." 

The note was written by Silva, according to witnesses including Cynthia Silva, who said her son dismissed it as a practical joke a few days before his friend's death. 

In his closing arguments, Wood said the note "sticks to him [Silva] like glue he won't shake off his body."

"He fulfilled every wish listed in the note," Wood said, running through each item in the "list to prepair Jarey" left in the tank -- "strip to underware + rap in tower," "tie up hands," "gag," and "cover eyes." 

Holding up the two soiled Ace bandages to the jury, the murder weapons wrapped around Jerry Alley's neck and ankles, and the electric cord, Wood said, "These are the instruments of death that tell you what the defendant did to Jerry Alley." 

Withee asked jurors to find Silva either not guilty or to consider lesser charges. 

He told them to consider the short amount of time a prosecution witness said Silva was gone the day Jerry went missing from his Interlachen home and whether he could have committed the murder during that span of time by himself. 

"Please consider, was someone else involved? Could this young man have completed these horrible acts in no time?" Withee said of the 30- to 35-minute time span testified to by a witness. "There are significant, significant questions about who was involved in this. 

That is a very short time to do the apparent awful work that was done on this young man."

Referring to statements and questions made by law enforcement officials on a 3-hour taped interview with Silva that neighbors had seen Silva and Jerry with two other boys, Withee said, "There is another voice, two perhaps, to be heard here." 

At the end of his closing statement, Wood read aloud from a class assignment Silva wrote at C.H. Price Middle School, where both he and Jerry went. In the assignment, Silva was asked to agree or disagree with the statement, "kids [should be] charged as adults." 

He wrote "Yes."

Silva then wrote, as if in response to why kids should be charged as adults when they commit crimes, "Kids will think twice about crimes, teaches lessons," then the adage, "you do the crime, you do the time."

*****

SENTENCE

March 16, 2001

Fifteen-year-old John Silva sat quietly in handcuffs as a Putnam County judge sentenced him to life in prison with no chance of parole for killing his schoolmate and friend, Jerry Lee Alley Jr. 

The sentencing went quickly, lasting less than an hour, with brief statements from the Alley family and friends asking Judge Arthur W. Nichols III to set an example for other children and send Silva to prison for life. Silva wasn't old enough to be considered for the death penalty. 

"It goes without saying that Jerry was a special boy," said Anne Alley, the 12-year-old's grandmother and adoptive parent with her husband, Marvin. "It goes without saying that our lives are changed forever, with children killing children. We need to make a statement that this is the real world, that if you kill somebody, there are real consequences." 

Only Silva's mother, Cynthia Silva, spoke on his behalf. 

"I still do not believe that he did this crime," she said. "There was definitely someone else involved. He is extremely immature for his age. He doesn't do things that normal teenagers do. He hasn't even understood most of the process of what is going on here." 

Silva, who cried during his trial and conviction last month, showed no emotion. 

His attorney, Putnam County Assistant Public Defender John Stephenson, said he told him that he needed to realize he will most likely go to prison for life. 

"That may explain his lack of reaction," Stephenson said. 

Although the life sentence was the judge's only option, Cynthia Silva asked that her son be sent to a juvenile facility instead of an adult prison. 

Nichols agreed to recommend that Silva be housed in a juvenile facility until he is 21, when he would be transferred to an adult prison. Silva will be taken to a prison reception center in Lake Butler where his final placement will be determined. 

Outside the courthouse, Marvin Alley said the ruling was the only outcome that he thought was right. Anne Alley added that she has no animosity toward the Silva family

 

 

 
 
 
 
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