In 2012, 60-year-old Robert Wayne Silvia was found guilty of murdering his girlfriend in 2010. He was sentenced to life in prison. Now, Silvia is appealing his conviction, claiming that his right to a pretrial competency hearing was violated.
Darlene Berthelot, Silvia’s then girlfriend, was found in a freezer after her daughter contacted deputies in Jasper County and requested that they check on her. Berthelot and Silvia lived together in a home in Jaycees. According to the medical examiner, 52-year-old Berthelot had been dead for approximately four to five days.
Silvia does not deny killing his girlfriend, but says that he doesn’t remember anything that happened immediately before or after the shooting took place. He says that at the time, he was intoxicated and in a “state of hopeless despair” because Berthelot was planning on leaving him. Silvia’s attorney argued that there was no documentation in the court’s record to indicate his client had been examined, although a competency examination was ordered.
Silvia could not recall relevant facts in the case; his attorneys claim that an order by the trial court to conduct a psychiatric evaluation to determine whether a defendant may stand trial and then failing to hold a competency hearing is an error that violates fundamental due process rights.
The Mississippi Court of Appeals is set to hear oral arguments in the case on February 4. Third-year law students at the Criminal Appeals Clinic at the University of Mississippi School of Law will represent Silvia in his appeal.
As is evident in this case, someone convicted of murder or any serious offense does not have to appeal a conviction based on the fact that he/she did not commit the crime. Instead, there are many errors that can be made in the criminal justice process that may violate the defendant’s rights which may be solid grounds for appeal.
Whether you have been wrongly convicted of a crime, feel that errors were made or that your attorney was inadequate in representing you, it is vital to choose a Michigan criminal appeals lawyer who is highly experienced and capable in the area of criminal appeals. You have another chance to secure justice; do not make the mistake of hiring a lawyer who is not familiar with the appeals process.