October 31, 2012

Court moves Readfield murder trial to Franklin County

Ongoing construction at Kennebec County facilities expected to be too noisy for expected February start

By Betty Adams badams@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA -- The man accused of killing Robert Orr of Readfield and then setting Orr's house on fire to cover the crime is now scheduled to be tried by a jury in Franklin County Superior Court early in February.

David B. Silva Jr., 34, originally from Carver, Mass., agreed in court Tuesday to the transfer of the trial from Kennebec County, where the offenses occurred, to Farmington.

An extension is under construction behind the Kennebec County Courthouse in Augusta, and the noise level is expected to be particularly high in February when pile-driving for the four-story structure is planned.

Justice Michaela Murphy said she wanted Silva brought to the court to ask him directly about whether he agreed to the move, which would mean a jury would be selected from among Franklin County residents. Silva responded "Yes."

He wore a bright orange jail uniform, and he was shackled as he walked into the courtroom accompanied by two deputies from the Kennebec County Sheriff's Office.

Murphy also said Silva's defense attorney, William Maselli, had told her he would seek a change of venue from Kennebec County, and Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea said the state did not object to having the trial in Franklin County.

"I want to get this tried in early 2013," Murphy said, adding that the Franklin County Superior Court clerk said the court was available. Attorneys said the trial could last five days or a little longer, Murphy said.

Silva is being held at the Kennebec County jail awaiting trial on the murder, arson, robbery and theft charges all connected to Orr's slaying on Feb. 8, 2011. Silva also has been held intermittently at the Maine State Prison in Warren. Silva has pleaded not guilty to the charges, and a previous defense attorney has suggested Silva would claim self-defense.

Silva was in court in Augusta for the brief hearing Tuesday morning, as were Orr's widow, Janet Orr, and seven other people, including some relatives and friends of Orr's.

Janet Orr said after the hearing she did not want to comment.

Robert Orr was 53 when he was shot in the head on Feb. 8, 2011, as he sat in a living room chair inside his Readfield home.

He had allowed Silva and Silva's girlfriend, Lindsay Spence, to rent a room in the home on Church Road for several weeks before the killing.

Silva also faces charges of assault on a corrections officer, criminal mischief and terrorizing for incidents that occurred while Silva was held last year in the Kennebec County jail. He is accused of hitting a jail guard in the chest with his head, threatening to kill another guard and smearing feces in his cell in July. Murphy said those cases were postponed to a future date.

Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson is the prosecutor, but Tuesday Zainea represented the prosecutor's office. Steve Brochu stood in for defense attorney Maselli.

Betty Adams -- 621-5631

badams@centralmaine.com

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