DaSilva Jr. gets 18 months in jail
Joseph DaSilva Jr., who pleaded guilty in the November 2009 death of Luis Encalada, has been sentenced to five years in prison, suspended after 18 months, plus five years of probation.
The New Milford resident must also perform 250 hours of community service and take an anger management program during probation, Judge John Blawie ruled Wednesday at State Superior Court in Danbury.
Mr. DaSilva pleaded guilty in January to negligent homicide, along with second-degree and third-degree assault charges.
The 42-year-old Mr. Encalada came to the United States from Ecuador. He died at Danbury Hospital in November 2009 from injuries he sustained when Mr. DaSilva kicked him down the stairs after finding him and two other men trespassing in a second-floor apartment on Town Hill Avenue in Danbury.
Under terms of the plea agreement Mr., Riccio had negotiated with prosecutor Sharmese Hodge, the state dropped first-degree manslaughter and first- and third-degree assault charges Mr. DaSilva originally had faced and substituted the lesser charges.
Several observers had weighed in prior to sentencing on what the judge's decision might be:
"I don't know enough about the case to give an opinion on what the sentence might be," attorney Norm Pattis of Bethany, said. "But I will say it's very, very difficult to walk a person out of the courtroom when they are responsible for the death of another... it's an uphill fight."
Greg Klein, the Danbury lawyer who represented Mr. Encalada's family in a civil suit against Mr. DaSilva settled out of court before the criminal case was resolved, said the family would not have looked favorably on a probation-only sentence.
In statements the family made to the prosecutor and to the state probation official who conducted Mr. DaSilva's pre-sentence investigation, Mr. Encalada's widow, Maria Yunga, and his eldest daughter, Elsa Encalada, did not specify the penalty they felt would be appropriate but expressed confidence "that at sentencing, justice will be done."
"I think the family would find this to be inconsistent with the idea of justice in this case," Mr. Klein said.
The feelings of a victim's family are one of the components judges and prosecutors weigh in determining an appropriate sentence, according to several area lawyers who regularly handle criminal cases.
"The victim's input comes into play tremendously," Danbury attorney Jeffrey Jowdy said.
"But every case is different," he said, "and other factors they take into consideration are a defendant's prior criminal history and their service in the community."
Seemingly working in Mr. DaSilva's favor was his resolution of lawsuits brought by the Encalada family and by Jaime Tenezaca, who was also in the apartment and was assaulted by Mr. DaSilva. The amounts of the settlements have been kept secret.
Attorney Vicki Hutchinson said a lack of a prior criminal record and community involvement usually work in a defendant's favor.
"I think the judge always listens to what the family has to say," Ms. Hutchinson said. "But the older a person is, the greater the body of work a defense attorney has to talk about when you consider the previous criminal record. There may be at least a 34-year period where he was a law-abiding, upstanding citizen, and that's a long period of time."
No matter what the eventual sentence turned out to be, Greenwich defense lawyer Phil Russell gave Mr. Riccio high marks for the way he handled the case.
"It's an unusual disposition, and he deserves a tremendous amount of credit for achieving the result he did, no matter how it's resolved," Mr. Russell said prior to sentencing.