AUGUSTA — Family and friends of the three youths killed in a car crash in Clinton filed into the courtroom of the Capital Judicial Center on Friday afternoon as Timothy Silva, the driver involved in the wreck, pleaded guilty to multiple charges.

In proceedings presided over by Waterville District Court Judge Charles Dow, Silva, 17, pleaded guilty to one juvenile charge of class A manslaughter in the deaths of Tommy Porfirio, 15, and Emily and Ashlin Baker, ages 14 and 12 respectively. He also pleaded guilty to charges of driving to endanger, criminal speeding and operating a motor vehicle without a license, all of which were charged as adult crimes.

Following the proceedings, District Attorney Maeghan Maloney explained that in juvenile cases, a single manslaughter charge is issued and lists all the deceased, rather than individual charges for each victim.

Maloney is pushing for the maximum sentence that would have Silva committed to Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland until he’s 21.

Silva’s attorney, Walter McKee, is asking for a suspended sentence that would place him on probation.

THE PROSECUTION’S ARGUMENT

In her statement to Judge Charles Dow, Maloney relayed the details of the crash and the investigation that followed.

“Testimony would show on Feb. 9, 2020, the defendant and his passengers left homes at 2 a.m. and drove around Fairfield, Waterville and Clinton,” Maloney said. “At 7 a.m., the defendant was operating the motor vehicle and passed a vehicle at a high rate of speed on the Hinckley Road (which) caused the vehicle to be forced onto the shoulder of the road, nearly causing a crash. As the defendant was passing back into the correct lane, he lost control, overcorrected, losing control, and crashed into a tree …” 

Maloney said that a state police investigation found that Silva was driving 85 mph in a posted 40 mph zone.

The state police determined that if Silva had been going at a safe speed, the crash could have been avoided or, at the least, caused less damage, Maloney said.

In her argument for the maximum sentence, Maloney said the state “cannot be confident that the defendant will not commit another crime,” then pointed to social media posts made by Silva after the crash.

“The defendant posted ‘like who wants to do something stupid? I got the keys to my car. Who wants to get picked up? I promise I won’t crash this time …,'” Maloney said. “It (the posts) shows he was not remorseful. He didn’t take his actions or the consequences of his actions seriously, and he intended to drive without a license again …” 

Maloney also argued that giving Silva a lesser sentence would “depreciate the seriousness of juvenile’s (Silva’s) conduct.”

“The state cannot argue and the court cannot impose anything less than commitment until age 21,” Maloney said. “The dangerous and inexcusable actions of the defendant on Feb. 9, 2020, caused serious harm to one child and caused the deaths of Tommy Porfirio, Emily Baker and Ashlin Baker.”

Since Silva was released June 9 into his mother’s custody, the two have been attending therapy, according to Maloney. 

Sheila Porfirio, center, reads a letter to the judge about her son, Tommy Porfirio, who was killed in a car accident in February, during proceedings Friday at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

FAMILY AND FRIENDS SPEAK

The family and friends of the victims then took turns addressing the judge and Silva.

Sheila Porforio, Tommy’s mother, tearfully recalled the morning of the crash.

“The morning of Feb 9. 2020, I had slept later than usual and I was just getting my coffee when I watched an unfamiliar car pull into the driveway. I met the cops at the door, and when they came inside, they told me I should sit down,” Sheila Porforio said. “As they told me there was an accident Tommy was involved in, I said that was impossible. He was in his room sleeping … I started shaking him (officer), ‘please, please tell me he’s OK.’ I watched him shake his head and say ‘I’m sorry, he’s passed …’

“I can still hear my screams as if it were yesterday. It can’t be true,” she said. “I’m living a parent’s worst nightmare. Somebody wake me up … We prayed until my husband came home from his night shift, when I had to hear his screams that his youngest son was gone. I had to watch him rock back and forth while he clutched Tommy’s jacket.”

Sheila Porforio told the judge that the maximum sentence won’t be enough and shared that she and her family feel let down by the court.

“There will be no more hugs from my curly headed son. No high school prom, graduation, no wedding, grandchildren. That was all taken away from him and our family due to the criminal acts of Timothy Silva. No matter the outcome, we suffer everyday knowing we have to live everyday without our Tommy … Timothy Silva must be given the maximum sentence which still is not enough for killing three children …”

Tommy’s father, Tony Porfirio, told the judge that the death of his son has ruined his life.

“I have to make believe that I’m OK,” he said. Everything my wife said I feel the same as she feels. I’m devastated. I live in darkness everyday. I will for the rest of my life … I brought up four kids and I always said to myself I hope I go to my grave knowing that I accomplished everything in life, bringing my kids up. Well, I’m going to my grave with a broken heart. ” 

After Tommy’s other siblings, Jenna and Josh Porfirio, read their statements, the court heard from Samantha Baker, mother of Ashlin and Emily who died alongside Tommy in the crash.

“I thought about you (Silva) and how much you might be suffering, but as the days went on, you showed over and over again that you couldn’t care less,” Baker said. “Because of you I lost two of my children, because of your selfishness and carelessness … there will never be anything to repair our broken hearts. I cry on a daily basis … I have to go on each day to support my son even though I want to crawl up in a ball.”

Baker told the court that Emily wanted to become a police officer and work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation while Ashlin aspired to be a veterinarian and open her own animal rescue.

Tim Silva talks to his mother Friday during a recess in proceedings at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta. Silva pleaded guilty to crimes he was charged with in the deaths of three teens in a February car accident. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

No parent should have to bury their child, let alone two,” Baker said.

TIMOTHY SILVA’S DEFENSE

“There’s a saying — and I’m not sure where it came from — that there’s nothing good that happens after 2 a.m.,” said Walter McKee, Silva’s defense attorney. “And I think what everyone in this courtroom can agree that is exactly what happened here, in February 2020. In this very tragic, terrible accident that was caused by Tim Silva when he was 16 years old.”

McKee said that Silva was rushing to get one of the youths back home before their parents woke up, and in doing so, the crash occurred.

“Our position is, this is not a case where Tim should be sent to Long Creek until the age of 21,” McKee said. “We’re asking for a fully suspended sentence in recognition of the unique sentencing factors the juvenile court has to apply … juvenile cases are inherently different.”

In regards to the social media post after the crash, McKee said it was a “profoundly stupid, childish and juvenile statement to make by all accounts.”

McKee asked the court not to judge Silva based on that single statement.

“Tim was able to express in counseling some real depression, suicidal ideations and some survivors’ guilt and flashbacks,” McKee said. “Survivors guilt and flashbacks is probably the best indication of remorse …”

During McKee’s statements the families of the victims left the courtroom.

“I can’t listen to him (McKee),” Tony Porfirio, Tommy’s father, whispered as he walked out of the room.

McKee went on to discuss the factor that juvenile thinking played in the crash.

“This isn’t rocket science, this is social science that is proven as well as just common sense,” McKee said. “It’s a lack of maturity, an undeveloped sense of responsibility that leads to recklessness, impulsivity and heedless risk taking.”

McKee noted how juveniles have a better chance at reform than adults.

“Tim has the opportunity to be a better person. Sending him to Long Creek will not allow that to happen,” McKee said. “Tim is in a situation now that it’s truly a make or break for him, and we ask the court to impose (a) sentence fully suspended.”

In her statement to the judge, Heidi Silva said that her son had behavioral issues, but was always a “kind, loving, giving and enthusiastic young man.”

Heidi Silva noted that her son has struggled to cope with the crash and asked the judge to allow their family to “move forward.”

“He (Silva) still has many difficulties when he thinks about the accident, but we try to work towards a better tomorrow honoring Em, Ash, Tommy and Nevaeh,” Heidi Silva said. “Tim has experienced episodes of depression, difficulty sleeping, crying and episodes of anxiety. Unfortunately Tim has also been threatened, his character degraded all over social media and I’ve even had my property vandalized … “

SILVA’S APOLOGY

Sheila Porfirio, center, stands with family as she addresses the media Friday following court proceedings at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Silva offered his own apology.

“I want to apologize to everyone for taking my mother’s car that morning. It was wrong and there is no excuse,” Silva said. “I know there is nothing I can say or do that can ease your heartbreaks, devastation and pain. I feel the pain and sadness each minute of every day. I’m angry with myself at the decision we made that morning. If we could go back in time and change the events that happened that morning, we definitely would. I will live the rest of my life knowing that myself and my friends were wrong in our decision … I’m deeply sorry, I know it won’t bring them back, but I’m deeply sorry.”

The families of the victims were not in the room while Silva gave his apology.

Silva will receive his sentence in writing in the following weeks.

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