Wednesday served as both wedding and sentencing day for 25-year-old Israel Silva of Lovell, who committed multiple property crimes in Powell and then — armed and drunk — led police on a high-speed, 13-mile chase in August.
After wedding Silva and his bride in a brief ceremony (see related story below), District Court Judge Steven Cranfill accepted a negotiated plea deal and sentenced Silva to six to 10 years in prison, followed by five years of supervised probation.
Under the deal, Silva agreed to plead guilty to felony counts of aggravated burglary and property destruction totaling over $1,000, plus a misdemeanor count of driving while under the influence of alcohol for a third time in 10 years; prosecutors dismisssed misdemeanor counts of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, reckless driving and eluding police and to not pursue other charges relating to some alleged misconduct that night.
Silva was also ordered to pay $1,335 in penalties and fees to the court and could owe tens of thousands of dollars more for the damage he caused. The exact amount Silva must pay for two vehicles he stole and crashed, two other vehicles he shot and for irrigation piping and a light pole he destroyed will be determined later.
The Park County Attorney’s Office is seeking close to $46,000 in restitution. Silva and his court-appointed attorney, Sarah Miles of Cody, dispute the amount.
The series of crimes reportedly began on the night of Aug. 23 or in the early morning hours of Aug. 24, when Silva stole a construction company’s Ford F150 pickup in Big Horn County, according to documents and statements made in court. After arriving in Powell, he allegedly drove the truck into a light pole at the middle school and abandoned it on North Bent Street; Silva then broke into a Chevy Silverado parked nearby and, using spare keys that were inside, drove off.
Over on the 400 block of West Fourth Street, Silva used a gun he’d found in the Silverado to shoot a parked van; the round wound up in a nearby backyard.
On Avenue H, Silva fired another bullet through the window of a different Ford F150 parked near Division Street.
That’s where Powell Police Officer Jason Pellegrino found Silva and the stolen Silverado, and a pursuit began around 5:39 a.m.
Silva sped and fishtailed his way to Avenue E, where he headed west and out of town, Pellegrino later recounted in an affidavit used to support the charges.
“While in town the speeds reached up to 70 mph. As we crossed into the county the speeds reached up to 110 mph,” Pellegrino said.
Silva made it to Road 23 on Heart Mountain before running over some irrigation pipe (causing an estimated $2,000 worth of damage) and getting stuck in a muddy barley field.
Powell police officers, after a struggle, took Silva into custody. They later learned he’d thrown the handgun out the truck’s window during the pursuit. The Silverado was deemed a total loss.
Silva reportedly told police he’d been using a variety of controlled substances, but Miles said tests showed only alcohol in his system. The tests found Silva had a blood alcohol concentration of .10 percent, Miles said — over the legal driving limit of .08. Court records show he’d driven while intoxicated twice in 2011.
Silva has been jailed since his Aug. 24 arrest on a $75,000 bond.
At his initial appearance before Circuit Court Judge Bruce Waters, prosecutors had asked for a $100,000 bond, while Silva had asked for something lower.
“Oh Mr. Silva, understand of course you’ve hit the big time with this one, OK?” Waters said. “This particular case has state penitentiary written all over it.”
The judge noted officers’ conclusion Silva had fired a gun in a residential area and that he’d been out on bond on a misdemeanor Big Horn County case at the time of the crimes.
“There’s only one place for you right now, and that’s in jail,” Waters had said. “And if you think I’m about to let you go, at least off cheap, the answer is no.”
Judge Cranfill declined to reduce the $75,000 figure when the case reached District Court.
The nearly six months Silva has spent in jail will count toward his six- to 10-year prison sentence. After that, he’ll start the probation, with an additional six- to eight-year prison sentence hanging in suspension.
“There will be no, ‘You can kiss the bride,’ or whatever they say when people get married,” said Israel Silva’s defense attorney, Sarah Miles, before her client’s impromptu Wednesday wedding in Park County’s District Courtroom.
In fact, there were few of the usual marriage traditions in the hastily organized ceremony.
While a detention deputy was trying to determine whether the inmate’s wedding had been cleared by jail supervisors, District Court Judge Steven Cranfill entered the courtroom and wed Silva and his 19-year-old bride.
With the groom clad in the Park County Detention Center’s standard orange jumpsuit and shackles — and the bride required to stay about 15 feet back to comply with the jail’s no-contact rules — they exchanged vows and were pronounced man and wife in a roughly one-minute ceremony.
It was witnessed by around a half-dozen of the newlyweds’ family and friends, some court officials and a couple of the people whose property Silva damaged during an August crime spree. The crime victims were there to testify to the monetary damage caused by Silva as he is disputing the amounts.
Immediately after the pronouncing the marriage, Cranfill directed the couple to retake their seats, and Silva’s sentencing hearing began.
Weddings are not allowed at the Park County Detention Center, so Wednesday’s ceremony involving an inmate was a rarity, if not a first.
Editor's note: This version removes an incorrect statement that the stolen Chevy Silverado was unlocked.