Silva Trial, Day 9: Attorneys wrap up case in Greeley gang trial | MyWindsorNow.com

Silva Trial, Day 9: Attorneys wrap up case in Greeley gang trial

Tommy Simmons
For the Tribune

The trial of Greeley gang member John Anthony Silva ended on a tense note Thursday, when a purported fellow gang member earned a six-month stint in jail for refusing to testify in the case.

The prosecution and the defense rested their cases in the trial of Greeley gang member who is being tried under the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act, meaning prosecutors must prove he demonstrated a pattern of racketeering during his time with his gang. To do that, they examined over 400 pieces of evidence and heard testimony from dozens of witnesses, offering the jury an unflinching look at Greeley's gang culture over the past 20 years.

The trial itself ended with one of Silva's former gang members, Joel Dominguez, taking the stand as the only witness for the defense. Dominguez is serving 48 years in prison after pleading guilty to the 2013 murder of Carlos Munoz-Vizcaino. Two of his fellow gang members also have been found guilty and are serving sentences. The 2013 murder was one of the major crimes prosecutors were seeking to tie Silva to in this case.

Dominguez was far from forthcoming on the subject, however.

"I really just do my own thing. I wouldn't call it a gang," Dominguez said.

Dominguez told the court he killed Munoz-Vizcaino on Aug. 15, 2013, and said he didn't even know Silva at the time, nor was he involved in a gang. He also testified to using a flail — the distinctive medieval weapon used in the homicide.

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"A debt was owed and some money was involved," he said. "(Munoz-Vizcaino and I) talked and things got out of hand. It just got heated real fast."

He emphasized at several points in his testimony that he was responsible for the murder and didn't even meet Silva until months after the event.

Dominguez became visibly frustrated when cross-examined by Deputy District Attorney Michael Pirraglia and interrupted the prosecutor numerous times. Dominguez maintained he was not in a gang, even when Pirraglia showed him photographs of gang-related tattoos on Dominguez's arms.

Dominguez also denied knowing Silva or any of the other men found guilty of the 2013 murder, even after Pirraglia showed Dominguez a photograph of Dominugez, Silva and several other gang members posing together.

"Just because you take pictures with people doesn't mean you know them," Dominguez said, refusing to answer Pirraglia's question about whether Dominguez was in the photograph.

Dominguez testified he was collecting money from Munoz-Vizcaino for people he'd known in the drug trade. Pirraglia asked him several times who those people were, but Dominguez refused to give an answer.

"It wasn't anyone sitting in this courtroom," he said, raising his voice.

Even after Weld District Court Judge Thomas Quammen ordered Dominguez to answer the prosecutor's questions, Dominguez refused to do so.

"Charge me with contempt of the court or whatever and let's get on with this," he said.

After Dominguez refused to answer who he was collecting a debt for or who he'd entered Munoz-Vizcaino's house with, Pirraglia took a more direct approach.

"You don't want to snitch on fellow gang members is that it?" he asked Dominguez. "It's going to help your role in prison by doing what you did today isn't it? You're going to prison with full protection for helping the leader of your gang."

The cross-examination ended after Dominguez raised his voice, swore at Pirraglia and claimed the attorney had been involved in the murder.

"He's got 48 years of protection from (Silva's gang) as directed by the defendant," Detective Mike Prill of the Greeley police department said when recalled by the prosecution. "He didn't snitch on anyone."

The defense rested its case shortly thereafter.

After testimony, Domgineuz was recalled and found to be in direct contempt of the court for his hostile demeanor on the witness stand. He was sentenced to 180 days in the Weld County Jail for which he will not be able to earn time off his sentence with good behavior.

What’s next?

Attorneys will deliver closing arguments in the trial of John Anthony Silva beginning at 8:30 this morning in Weld District Court. Silva, a longtime Greeley gang member, is being tried for a variety of crimes under the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act.

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