Silva claims mistaken identity in arrest

by Maura Henninger | 4/8/97 5:00am

The lawyer for Gerion Daniel Silva, the White River Junction man believed to be the gunman who robbed a female pedestrian on West Wheelock Street early on March 12, says his client is guilty only of mistaken identity.

Silva, who is currently imprisoned at the Woodstock Regional Correctional Facility awaiting extradition to New Hampshire, has a valid alibi, his attorney Michael Kainen told The Dartmouth.

Silva's ex-girlfriend, a woman named Rebecca Wheeler, claims that she was with Silva on the evening in question, according to Kainen. Because of this evidence, Silva "could not have committed the crime in that period of time," Kainen said.

Kainen also said other factors contributed to the possibility of mistaken identity.

He said Silva should have been identified via a line-up and speculated the police sketch of the assailant may be inaccurate because the assault occurred at night.

Furthermore, the informants who provided the information leading to the arrest may have had personal motivations for implicating Silva in the crime, according to Kainen.

"It could have been Rebecca Wheeler's ex-boyfriend or someone else who has a problem with Silva," Kainen said.

According to Windsor County Deputy State's Attorney Will Porter, Hanover Police arrived at Silva's White River Junction home on Thursday. When the officers identified themselves, Silva attempted to leave in his car.

Kainen denied Silva was trying to flee from the police, saying he instead was leaving to see a friend in New Hampshire.

The Hanover police had called police from Hartford, Vt. and asked them to make the arrest, since New Hampshire police do not have arrest powers in Vermont.

"If the Hanover police wanted to arrest him, they should have waited for him to drive into New Hampshire," Kainen said. "But the point is that he wasn't fleeing and he wasn't concerned about this. Of course, he wasn't psyched to see the police at his front door. I mean, he has a criminal record."

The Valley News reported that Silva's criminal record includes misdemeanor convictions in 1992 and 1993 for petit larceny, possession of stolen property, simple assault and three probation violations.

The Hartford police were driving down Silva's street as he pulled out and managed to detain and arrest him, according to Porter.

Hanover police now have up to thirty days to apply for a governor's warrant that would allow for Silva's extradition to New Hampshire to stand trial.

Since Silva refused to waive his extradition rights, an extradition warrant signed by the governors of both New Hampshire and Vermont must be obtained, a process Hanover Police Detective-Sergeant Frank Moran told The Dartmouth "is time consuming."

Kainen believes that the warrant will be obtained before he can prove that this is a case of mistaken identity. He would not speculate as to which steps would be taken at that point.

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