One year later, family impatient with district attorney on death of Brett Silva
WILLOWS, Calif. - The family of Brett Silva, who was killed in an automobile accident nearly one year ago, is becoming impatient with Glenn County District Attorney Dwayne Stewart, who has yet to file charges against Ramon Barrera, Jr., 25, of Arbuckle.
On January 22, 2017, Willows CHP said Barrera was passing traffic on Highway 32 between Orland and Hamilton City when he crashed into Silva, who died at the scene. Silva was 53.
Two of Silva's children suffered serious injuries.
Rick Silva, the brother of the former Pleasant Valley teacher and soccer coach, speaks for his brother's wife, Lori, and other family members, saying there's enough evidence to charge Barrera.
"The question is why does this process take so long?" asked Silva.
In its collision report, the Willows CHP said drugs were in Barrera's system at the time of the accident and gave the opinion that he'd been "driving under the influence of drugs at the time of the wreck."
But Glenn County District Attorney Dwayne Stewart has not filed charges, saying he's waiting for more definitive blood and urine samples from the California Department of Justice and wants to know the specific drugs and their quantities before moving forward.
"We have to show proof beyond a reasonable doubt," said Stewart.
"We have to be able to show that this defendant was under the influence, meaning he had drugs in his system and was affected by the drugs," said Stewart, "And that he was so affected that he was not able to drive that car as a sober, careful and cautious person."
Since there was no alcohol in Barrera's system, Stewart said it's more difficult to prosecute since there's not a clear .08 measurement, California's legal alcohol limit, to base a charge.
But Silva, who has covered many such cases as the managing editor of the Paradise Post, believes Stewart is being too deliberate.
"He wants to make sure he gets every piece of evidence he can, which I understand," said Silva. "But I don't think it's needed to this extent where you haven't had an arrest and haven't started the process."
Family members who recently met with Stewart believe it's time to find Barrera and book him although his whereabouts, according to the CHP, are uncertain.
One CHP officer said he heard Barrera headed to Mexico.
"Not a problem for us, because we have extradition paperwork that we can do," said Stewart. "It would not be that difficult to get somebody from a different country."
Silva's death sparked tears and loving tributes to a favorite teacher and soccer coach at Pleasant Valley High School.
Now they and family are hoping that justice delayed isn't justice denied.
"It's very frustrating to us to know that our brother is gone, our husband is gone, our father is gone, and our coach is gone," said Silva.
"And we don't have an answer."