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Second trial scheduled in Porter County double slaying

Second trial scheduled in Porter County double slaying

VALPARAISO — A nine-day trial has been scheduled for the co-defendant of Connor Kerner, who was sentenced last month to 179 years behind bars for last year's murders of 18-year-old Thomas Grill, of Cedar Lake, and 19-year-old Molley Lanham, of St. John.

John Silva II was ordered Monday morning by Porter Superior Court Judge Mike Fish to appear for trial June 1, according to the court.

Silva, 20, who is now represented by defense attorney John Cantrell, is charged with two counts each of murder and robbery resulting in serious bodily injury, according to court records.

He is accused of killing Grill and Lanham on Feb. 25, 2019.

Silva, who initially told police he was not present during the killings, reportedly later admitted to leaving Valparaiso High School with Kerner on the day in question and traveling together to Kerner's maternal grandparents' home in Boone Township.

Silva said he turned off his location service setting on his cellphone and saw Kerner retrieve a black handgun from the glove box of his vehicle before entering his grandparents' home, according to charging documents.

Silva said he went to the basement of the home and heard Kerner meeting with two people before hearing six gunshots and Kerner yelling, "John, John," police said.

When he entered the home's garage, Silva said he saw Lanham lying motionless face down and Grill lying face down but alive and making noises, according to charging documents. While wiping up blood with towels provided by Kerner, Silva said he saw Kerner "grab a wrench and his back swing prior to striking Thomas."

Kerner reportedly told a confidential informant he shot Grill after Grill tried to rob him during a drug deal in the garage of Kerner's grandparents' home, according to the records.

Kerner loaded the bodies of Grill and Lanham in the trunk of a Honda Civic following their slayings, along with various containers of flammable liquids and set the vehicle on fire.

Silva is scheduled to appear in court next on April 29, with a pretrial hearing May 3, according to the court.

Gallery: Recent arrests booked into Porter County Jail


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Porter/LaPorte County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.

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