After hearing a contentious debate between defense attorney John Hayden and prosecuting attorney Ann Lundwall in Clallam County Superior Court, Judge Brooke Taylor sentenced Spencer Silva on April 3 to four years in prison, with an additional year for being armed with a knife.
Silva was found guilty of robbery in the second degree with a deadly weapon after a three-day non-jury trial in January.
“Rarely does someone put on a disguise, take a very large knife and go out hunting for people,” Taylor said, after administering the sentencing.
Taylor also said that he hoped Silva would find counseling for what he said could be a drug issue, a mental health issue or a deviancy issue.
“There are certainly facts in this file where I could conclude any of these three or all three,” Taylor said.
“Mr. Silva is befuddled about himself,” said defense attorney John Hayden, noting that Silva was terrified he could attack and attempt to rob someone like a highway bandit.
“Spencer is mortified that he would do something like that.”
Hayden’s statement did not change the words written by Silva’s victim, who wrote a letter detailing the psychological impact the attack has had on her.
In her letter to the court, she wrote that she has ridden her bike one time since Silva attacked her nine months ago on the Olympic Discovery Trail.
“When I did ride it that one time, I only rode a few miles and was absolutely terrified the entire time,” she said.
She added that Silva’s attack shattered her sense of security. “I am extra cautious now whenever going anywhere and will not run or bike outside by myself unless I know there will be many people around,” she wrote.
The gravity of the sentencing weighed on Silva himself, who gave a choked but resolute statement of apology, saying that he was sorry for harming an innocent and frightening his community. He hoped that with his sentencing, his victims could have a “restored peace of mind,” and he was willing to do “whatever it takes to better myself in the future.”
Beyond the five years of jail time, Silva also will pay $1,653 in fines: a $500 victim assessment fee, $200 criminal filing fee, $353 sheriff’s service fee, $500 attorney fee and $100 DNA collection fee.
The sentencing comes after several months of back-and-forth discussion over whether or not prosecutors could charge Silva with individual felony offenses if the offenses were incidental to a larger crime.
Complex may be too light a word to describe the legal discussion.
“I don’t ever want to deal with mergers again after this,” Lundwall said during the court’s recess.
At the heart of the issue was whether or not Silva’s charges of assault and unlawful imprisonment — when he attacked and restrained his victim while trying to rob her — were indivisible from the robbery crime and not applicable for separate charges.
Both Lundwall and Hayden brought several prior cases before the court that established precedent for and against combining charges that were incidental to the crimes committed.
The conflicting state Supreme Court decisions made it difficult for the court to properly adjudicate the merging charges issues.
“I probably should have a chart to keep track of all these charges,” said Taylor during the arguments. “Quite frankly, the state of the law is difficult to understand.”
Ultimately, Taylor found that the assault and unlawful imprisonment were not punishable as separate charges because they were part of the robbery.
The state will have the right to appeal.