An Ignacio man suspected of killing his stepfather has been found incompetent to stand trial.
Richard Silva, 31, will be treated and housed at the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo until he is restored to competency or reaches the maximum possible sentence allowed under the charge of second-degree murder, which is 48 years.
The legal finding was made Thursday by 6th Judicial District Judge Jeffrey Wilson, who made his decision based on medical evaluations done at the court’s request.
The courts will review Silva’s case at least every six months to determine if he is competent to stand trial.
In order to be found competent, a defendant must have an understanding of the criminal proceedings and be able to assist with his own defense.
Once he is found to be competent, the criminal case against him will resume, in which he will have a chance to enter a plea, possibly enter a plea agreement or take the case to trial.
Silva is accused of hitting his stepfather, Clayborn Scott, 55, over the head multiple times with a 5-gallon propane tank. The incident occurred May 8 in a house they both lived in about four miles north of Ignacio and three miles east of Oxford.
Silva was supposed to be at home caring for Scott, who suffered from a brain injury caused in a motorcycle accident several years ago.
Silva’s mother was in Durango at the time. Upon returning, she saw Silva walking alone on the side of the road. She asked him why he wasn’t at home caring for Scott, and he mumbled something and kept walking, said to an investigator with the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office who testified Aug. 29 during a preliminary hearing.
His mother arrived home to find 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 Scott and Silva and found a propane tank sitting in the shower with water running.
Silva told investigators he couldn’t remember anything from the previous two days and declined to cooperate with authorities.
During a routine court hearing in October, Silva appeared agitated and combative. He began yelling profanities at his lawyer and physically challenged courtroom deputies.
“You’re fired,” he told his public defense lawyer, Justin Bogan. “No game. Hocus pocus. I fired him.”
Two deputies forced him to sit in a chair after he stood up without permission. The court hearing was postponed.
Family members have told investigators Silva suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after military service in Afghanistan.
If Silva eventually is found to be competent, his lawyers may consider an insanity defense.
But being found incompetent to stand trial and mounting an insanity defense are different legal distinctions. No analysis has been done to determine whether Silva was legally insane at the time of the homicide.
It is possible Silva could be released from the state mental-health hospital before being found competent and before serving 48 years.
If someone is found to be permanently incompetent, and the person no longer is considered a threat to society, judges have been known to release the person under a suitable living plan.