An Ignacio man suspected of killing his stepfather by beating him over the head with a propane tank made his first court appearance Wednesday.
Richard Silva, 30, sat still and looked down during most of the advisement hearing in 6th Judicial District Court.
He answered, “I do,” when District Judge Jeffrey Wilson asked if he understood his rights.
He is being held in the La Plata County jail on $100,000 bail on suspicion of second-degree murder. He could be sentenced to eight to 24 years in prison if convicted.
Prosecutors are expected to file formal charges May 24.
Silva is suspected of using a 5-gallon propane tank to bludgeon his stepfather, Clayborn Scott, 55, also of Ignacio.
The death occurred about noon May 8 about four miles north of Ignacio and three miles east of Oxford.
Investigators said they are unsure what motivated the killing. Silva claimed he couldn’t remember anything from the preceding two days, and he declined to speak with law enforcement, said Dan Patterson, an investigator with the Sheriff’s Office, in an earlier interview with the Herald.
Silva was supposed to be at home caring for his stepfather, who suffered from mental and physical complications associated with a motorcycle crash, Patterson said.
Instead, Silva was seen walking alone on the side of the road about a quarter mile from the house. His hair was wet as if he had recently showered, Patterson said.
Silva’s family arrived home to find Scott bludgeoned to death on the floor next to his bed, Patterson said.
A propane tank was sitting in the shower with the water turned on, he said.
An autopsy determined Scott died from blunt-force trauma to the head, with multiple skull fractures.
Silva was arrested the same day.
His first court appearance occurred eight days after his arrest, which is longer than usual, because Silva has been on suicide watch at the jail, lawyers said. He is responding well to medication, they said.
About 10 friends and family members attended Wednesday’s advisement hearing. They sat on the opposite side of the courtroom from Silva, behind Deputy District Attorney Christian Champagne.
They declined to comment.
Champagne said he is concerned about Silva’s mental capacity to participate in legal proceedings, because his behavior at the jail after his arrest was “bizarre.”
Silva’s public defense lawyers, Justin Bogan and Faith Winstead, objected to raising competency to stand trial issues at this early stage, saying they needed more information about Silva’s alleged behavior.
Wilson said he will revisit the competency issue next week.
The judge said he plans to issue a gag order that will limit what law enforcement can say publicly about the case.
He also ordered that the arrest affidavit, which provides detailed facts and circumstances surrounding an arrest, remain sealed from the public.