A Laramie man who partially disemboweled himself to escape looming child molestation charges pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Albany County District Court.
John Silva, who is now 80, rolled into the courtroom Tuesday morning in a wheelchair to hear his rights and to give his plea to the charges alleging he molested an 8-year-old girl from about 2021 to 2022. His voice was haggard and suppressed, and he appeared to struggle hearing Albany County District Court Judge Misha Westby.
“I have quite a few health problems,” Silva told the judge. He relied on his attorney to restate many of Westby’s questions.
Silva pleaded not guilty to all charges against him. Those include one count of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor and two of second-degree sexual abuse.
Westby set Silva’s trial for Feb. 7, tentatively.
Sell The Coin Collection
David Korman, Silva’s defense attorney, argued that the man is not a flight risk because he has family within and strong ties to the town of Laramie, Wyoming. He also argued that Silva, in his state of poor health, doesn’t pose a risk to others, and he doesn’t live with his alleged victim.
“He’s not in a physical position to go out and commit a crime of violence,” said Korman.
Korman asked for Westby to give Silva a recognizance bond — letting him out of jail on the promise he’d return for court — or a lower bond with a percentage due before release.
Silva has a costly coin collection that his family could liquidate to post bond, but it wouldn’t get him anywhere near the current $30,000 cash-only bond that’s been set, Korman said.
Becky Farley, chief deputy prosecutor for Albany County, said a recognizance bond wouldn’t be appropriate, especially in light of Silva’s alleged maneuvers in the frantic moments before his arrest.
According to the evidentiary affidavit in the case, Silva retreated to his locked bathroom when police were at his door, and slashed his neck and belly with a large knife, partially disemboweling himself.
A small portion of his intestines protruded through his stomach wall, and his neck bled from a slice wound, the affidavit says.
The document alleges Silva kept saying that he would not go back to prison because last time he was there, he was sexually and physically abused.
That fierce resolve not to return to prison, said Farley, makes her worry that Silva would try to flee justice if released.
Farley said she also fears danger to the alleged victim, who still lives in Albany County.
What About $10K
Westby said she understood both arguments. The $30,000 cash bond was too high, the judge added.
She set a new bond of $10,000, cash-only.
“If the family were able to raise that I would only release him … under very strict conditions,” Westby added.
Editor's Note: Cowboy State Daily has omitted some charging information to protect the victim's identity.
Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.