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Silva unmoved by evidence

Silva unmoved by evidence

VALPARAISO — Porter County Detective Daniel Alonzo told jurors Tuesday morning that when he arrived at the home where a double slaying had taken place just a few days earlier, he immediately noticed white stains on the driveway indicating someone had been cleaning in the garage.

After collecting several bullet casings on the ground outside and empty cleaning supply containers from the trash, he and other detectives returned the following day to discover bullet holes and blood stains on vehicles in the garage and a foot-long crescent wrench containing dried blood and a hair.

Jurors were shown a close-up photo of the wrench that investigators later learned was used by Valparaiso resident Connor Kerner to beat to death 18-year-old Thomas Grill of Cedar Lake.

The submission of the evidence came as the second week gets underway in the murder trial of Kerner's co-defendant, John Silva II.

Prosecutors had submitted nearly 800 pieces of evidence last fall in their successful case against Kerner, 20, who was found guilty and sentenced to 179 years behind bars, which the judge acknowledged was a "de facto" life sentence. Kerner has since appealed.

Silva showed no obvious reaction Tuesday as photos of the evidence were projected on a large screen in the courtroom for jurors.

The 20-year-old Hamlet man is accused of knowingly accompanying Kerner to Kerner's maternal grandparents' home in Boone Township on Feb. 25, 2019, and hiding in the basement while Kerner shot both Grill and Molley Lanham, 19, of St. John, in the garage above.

Kerner then summoned Silva to help clean up while Kerner finished the killing of Grill by beating him with the pipe wrench, police say.

Kerner loaded the bodies of Grill and Lanham in the trunk of a Honda Civic following the slayings, along with various containers of flammable liquids, and set the vehicle on fire, police said. He was not able to follow through on plans to haul away and dispose the charred remains of the vehicle and bodies.

While the defense has argued Silva unknowingly became wrapped up in the double slaying, prosecutors say he was part of the plan all along. Silva is charged with two counts each of murder and robbery resulting in serious bodily injury.

Go on patrol with Aaron Crawford, a Cpl. with the Lowell Police Department, as he speaks about joining the force, DUI enforcement grants, and police Jiu-jitsu training.

Jurors were shown a surveillance video last week of Silva and Kerner leaving Valparaiso High School together around 10:17 a.m. on Feb. 25, 2019, which was less than two hours before the killings.

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.

The trial is taking place before Porter Superior Court Judge Mike Fish.


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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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