No clear-cut motive was revealed in 6th Judicial District Court during a Wednesday hearing for an Ignacio man accused of murdering his stepfather with a 35-pound propane tank, but a judge said “substantial circumstantial evidence” exists to link the defendant to the crime.
He allowed prosecutors to proceed with their second-degree murder charge.
Richard Silva, 30, sat expressionless and stared straight ahead during Wednesday’s preliminary hearing. Prosecutors had to present enough evidence to satisfy District Judge Jeffrey Wilson that a crime occurred and the defendant is linked to it.
Silva is charged with second-degree murder for the May 8 death of his stepfather, Clayborn Scott, 55, also of Ignacio.
Silva is being held in the La Plata County jail on $100,000 bail.
Two La Plata County Sheriff’s Office investigators – Tonya Golbricht and Dan Patterson – testified Wednesday.
According to them, Silva was supposed to be at home caring for Scott, who suffered a brain injury several years ago in a motorcycle accident and could not be left home alone.
Silva’s mother and her daughter made a trip to Durango to retrieve a truck that had run out of gas.
When they returned, they found Silva walking alone on the side of the road near the house.
They asked him why he was not at home caring for Scott, and he “mumbled something to them and kept walking,” Golbricht said.
They heard him say, “I left Clayborn a long time ago,” she said.
The mother drove home and found her husband bludgeoned to death on the floor next to his bed. She checked for a pulse and found none. She went into a bathroom shared by the two men and found a 5-gallon propane tank sitting in the shower with water running on top of it.
Wet clothes, presumably belonging to Silva, were found on the bathroom floor.
Police arrested Silva a short distance from the house, about four miles north of Ignacio and three miles east of Oxford.
Silva said he could not remember anything from the last two days and declined to speak with investigators, according to an earlier interview with Patterson.
Silva’s mother told investigators there was no tension between Silva and Scott.
Investigators found numerous flecks of white paint on Scott’s face and around the headboard where he was bludgeoned, Patterson testified Wednesday. The propane tank also appeared to be shedding white flecks of paint, he said.
The propane tank and the shards of paint have been sent to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation for forensic analysis.
The murder occurred within the exterior boundaries of the Southern Ute Indian Reservation, and Scott was a member of the tribe. But the Sheriff’s Office is investigating the case because Silva is not a tribal member.
Silva’s public defense lawyer, Justin Bogan, indicated he may challenge whether the Sheriff’s Office has jurisdiction rather than the FBI.