A last-second attempt to withdraw a guilty plea was rebuffed and John Russell Silvey received a life sentence for second-degree murder.
Silvey, who refused to appear Tuesday in District Court, was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 10 years by Judge Robert Estes.
The case ends a nearly two-year episode where Silvey shot and killed his neighbor, Michael Caudill, 41, at Caudill’s residence on Feb. 16, 2012.
Silvey’s attorney, Dave Neidert, filed the motion Friday after Silvey said he was coerced into the signing the guilty plea agreement on July 1. Churchill County Chief Deputy District Attorney Lane Mills filed a motion opposing the request and said Silvey was coherent and knowingly signed the deal.
Estes agreed and said the court found “no evidence of coercion whatsoever” and was properly canvassed.
Moments later, Caudill’s mother, Bambi Mosley, gave a statement to the court describing her son’s heart and character. She said he volunteered to assist in the cleanup in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and was always willing to lend a helping hand to those in need.
“That man who killed my son is to chicken to face us,” Mosley said. “The impact on my family has been tremendous. We’ve had a tough time adjusting to his death. I’ll never be twirled around in one of his big bear hugs again.”
Silvey, who again is refusing to eat in the Churchill County Jail, had targeted Caudill for more than 18 months, Mills said. Mills detailed how Silvey stalked Caudill through various forms of surveillance including video cameras, photographs, watching his home through binoculars and a detailed ledger of who frequented Caudill’s residence dating back to June 2010.
On the day of the murder, the video camera directed at Caudill’s home about 100 meters from Silvey’s residence, picked up audio of a verbal altercation. Though pixalated, the video shows Caudill and Silvey engaged in a heated argument over Caudill’s dog.
Minutes later, Caudill ran from his property, across the access road to Silvey’s location behind what appears to be a bush, concealed from the camera. Seconds later, though, Silvey unleashes seven shots, striking Caudill four times.
Caudill gets up and starts to run again, while Silvey emerges from the bushes, takes three steps and fires three more rounds. Caudill falls and drags himself inside his residence, leaving a lengthy blood trail.
In the chilling 911 call, Caudill, who is breathing heavily, pleads for help and identifies his neighbor as the assailant. Caudill, however, does not know Silvey’s name but said he was shot four times.
“I’m dying,” Caudill said. “I’m hurting really bad.”
About eight minutes into the call, the dispatcher receives a call from Silvey and puts Caudill on hold.
Silvey said he shot his neighbor after being attacked while walking his dog on the road. In addition, Silvey told the dispatcher Caudill threatened to beat him to death, although the audio on the video is inaudible.
The video, though, shows Silvey walking back to his home with the dog, and he calmly says, “What a day. What a day.”
Caudill was transported to Renown Medical Center in Reno, underwent surgery and died shortly after.
According to the police report, Silvey told deputies he shot Caudill several times. When deputies entered the residence, they found Caudill propped up against a wall with three shots to his leg and one to the chest.
Silvey, though, claimed Caudill “beat and kicked him in the head,” although the sheriff’s report and crime scene photos showed no signs of injury.
A recorded call on the jail phone, Mills added, was chilling and described Silvey’s role in the killing.
“Only two witnesses, the security camera and the fish and game guy that was way down the road,” Silvey said about the shooting. “So nobody heard nothing. The security camera won’t hear anything that far away. I already know that.
“So he was riddled from top to bottom … I mean he left a big blood trail. So he didn’t make no statement. Dead men don’t tell no tales.”
Neidert, meanwhile, said if the case had gone to trial the defense was prepared to argue the two men had a “long running feud.” In addition, Neidert said he and Silvey discussed the options at length including going to trial, but it was in Silvey’s best interest to accept the second-degree murder charge.
“He accepted it,” Neidert said. “He is competent and understands.”
Silvey’s tenure in the Churchill County Jail, meanwhile, has been a tumultuous one.
According to court records, Silvey refused to attend a hearing on May 28 and was on a 90-day silent protest. About two weeks prior to the hearing, Silvey met with Neidert and his associate, Troy Jordan, which the two litigators said was a productive meeting.
Several days later, however, Silvey would not speak with Neidert about the case, which prompted Neidert to ask for the hearing to update Estes.
It is not the first time Silvey has acted in such a manner. Silvey has sent numerous letters to the LVN stating he would refuse “any and all emergency medical services” and renounced his citizenship from the United States.
Soon after Silvey was arrested, he went on a hunger strike and was transported to Banner Churchill Community Hosptial on numerous occasions, which led to a court order allowing Churchill County Sheriff’s deputies and hospital staff to feed Silvey through an IV.
In addition to the hunger strike, Silvey was moved to a secured cell and placed on suicide watch. He also underwent two competency evaluations, which have certified his competency.