Bellevue Sonic shooter’s mental health declining in solitary, defense tells judges
PAPILLION, Neb. (WOWT) - A delay Monday in the decision about whether the man who killed two people and injured two more at the Bellevue Sonic Drive-In in November 2020 will get the death penalty.
Roberto Carlos Silva Jr.’s defense team said Monday that their client’s mental health has declined while in solitary confinement. Attorney Chris Lathrop said he isn’t sure whether Silva can assist in his own defense as the state prepares for the death penalty phase of his case.
He asked that Silva be examined by two psychologists from Lincoln Regional Center.
Sarpy County District Court Judge Nathan Cox ordered Silva, who is being held at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution, to be evaluated for competency at the Lincoln Regional Center.
Sarpy County Deputy Attorney Gage Cobb said that, in his view, this order doesn’t impact the plea, only the sentencing phase.
“The statute allows that anytime the defense or prosecution has an issue due to competency, that the court can order an evaluation which it has done in trying the case,” he said.
Presiding Judge Nathan Cox asked the defense to get the mental evaluations underway as quickly as possible, even saying it’s probably best if the medical professionals at the regional center travel to Tecumseh to check out Silva.
Cameras weren’t allowed in court Monday, but 6 News noted that Silva looks much different than his mugshot and file video footage of earlier appearances; wearing a gray jumpsuit, he arrived in court with a buzzcut and long beard.
Silva was also surrounded by seven members of law enforcement during the entire proceeding.
In early March, Silva pleaded guilty to all 15 felony charges in the Bellevue Sonic shooting including first-degree murder and first-degree arson. The Sarpy County Attorney’s Office is seeking the death penalty. Detectives said he was upset that he was investigated for using someone else’s account to buy $50 worth of food.
A three-judge panel was set last week to determine whether the double-murder case rises to the level of the death penalty. Judge Cox is joined on the panel by Judge Bryan Meismer of the 6th District Court and Judge Michael Piccolo of the 11th District.