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Juan Silva, Sr.

Other Wisconsin Cases with False Confessions
At about 10:30 p.m. on September 28, 2013, a white van ran over two pedestrians outside Ela De Copas Tavern in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Thirty-nine-year-old Juan Zapata-Guerrero was killed and 43-year-old Angalee Jacobs was seriously injured.

The following day, 43-year-old Juan Silva Sr., turned himself in to police and said he was the driver of the van. Silva told police that it was raining and his windshield wiper was broken and was only clearing half of the windshield. He said that his cell phone rang and he looked down to see who was calling and then felt the van strike something and kept going. He said he later saw on the television news about the accident and decided to turn himself in.

Silva pled guilty to a charge of hit and run death on February 12, 2014 and was sentenced to five years in prison.

In June 2015, a co-worker of Claudia Sanchez, Silva’s wife, told a Milwaukee police officer that Sanchez had confided to her that Silva was innocent, but had falsely confessed because the actual driver of the van was Silva’s son, Juan Silva Jr., who was 20 years old at the time of the accident.

Police officers questioned Sanchez and then the younger Silva, who confessed that the day after the accident, he told the elder Silva that he thought he had struck a dog. The elder Silva admitted to police that he had falsely confessed because he did not want his son to go to prison.

On July 27, 2015, the Milwaukee County District Attorney joined in a defense motion to vacate the elder Silva’s conviction and he was released. The younger Silva was then charged with the hit and run death.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 8/20/2015
State:Wisconsin
County:Milwaukee
Most Serious Crime:Manslaughter
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2013
Convicted:2014
Exonerated:2015
Sentence:5 years
Race:Hispanic
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:43
Contributing Factors:False Confession
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No