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Judge: Girl, 14, ‘active’ participant’ in mother’s killing

The Associated Press

ALLENTOWN — A 14-year-old girl’s “intelligence and manipulation” were crucial to the plot to have her soldier boyfriend kill her mother, a judge said, calling it a “vicious and monstrous crime.”

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Lehigh County Judge Maria Dantos issued a 37-page decision detailing why she ruled Thursday that Jamie Silvonek should be tried as an adult in the killing of her mother.

Authorities said 54-year-old Cheryl Silvonek was beaten, choked and stabbed in her SUV in March after returning from a concert with her daughter and the teenager’s boyfriend, 21-year-old Army Spc. Caleb Barnes.

“The nature of the crime itself and the defendant’s role in the crime demonstrated criminal sophistication,” Dantos said, adding that the teenager’s “intelligence and manipulation were essential to achieving the desired goal — murder.”

Defense attorneys have argued that Jamie Silvonek was an impressionable girl under the sway of an older man and should be tried in juvenile court. Dantos, however, said she was “a willing and active participant” in the slaying.

“The defendant was integral to the success of the criminal plan, as she was the genesis of the idea and provided the opportunity,” Santos wrote. If not for her, Dantos wrote, Barnes “never would have killed the victim.”

Authorities have cited text messages in which they say Silvonek urged Barnes to kill her mother, including one saying, “I want her gone.”

A juvenile conviction would mean release for Silvonek no later than her 21st birthday and probably well before then, a period of time that Dantos called “woefully inadequate” to expect her to be rehabilitated and would make her a threat to the public.

“The defendant participated in the premeditated killing of her own mother, who deeply loved and cared for her in every way possible,” the judge said. “It is conceivable that a person who is capable of killing her mother potentially could kill anyone.”