Fla. 15-Year-Old Convicted of Murder

ByABC News
February 8, 2001, 6:54 PM

P A L A T K A, Fla., Feb. 8 -- A 15-year-old was convicted of first degreemurder today for strangling a 12-year-old whose body was foundin a dry septic tank pit two days after he disappeared.

John Silva, who was tried as an adult, can only be sentenced tolife in prison with no possibility of parole for murdering JerryLee Alley Jr.

The jury deliberated less than two hours before finding Silvaguilty. The 12 jurors had the option of considering a second-degreemurder or manslaughter conviction.

Silva's mother and sister cried when the verdict was read andbegan sobbing heavily as the judge continued speaking.

The victim's grandparents, Marlin and Anne Alley, hugged CynthiaSilva after the jury that convicted her son was dismissed.

"I'm just sorry we both lost sons to this," said Marlin Alley,with tears rolling down his cheeks. "It's a shame. This didn'thave to happen at all."

'He Will Die in Prison'

Assistant District Attorney Garry Wood said the conviction wasappropriate and would prevent Silva from ever hurting anyone else.

"John Silva is capable of killing another human again hewill die in prison," Wood said.

Sentencing was scheduled for March 15.

In closing arguments, Wood wrapped an elastic bandage around hisneck to show how Jerry was strangled.

"This is the instrument of death," Woods said. "He wrapped itfour times around Jerry Alley's neck and knotted it four times."

Wood urged the jury to find Silva guilty of premeditatedfirst-degree murder.

Defense: Too Many Unanswered Questions

But Silva's attorney, Doug Withee, told the jury there weretoo many unanswered questions to find Silva guilty of murder.

Withee said a 3½-hour statement given by his client toinvestigators had many inconsistencies with the facts.

"Is it an admission of anything?" he asked. "The facts inthis case do not match this statement."

Withee pointed to a witness' statement that Silva was gone fromhome for 30 minutes during the time of the slaying and did not havethe time to lure Jerry to a vacant lot, kill him, tie him up andreturn.