A woman convicted as a teenager in the murder of her mother almost eight years ago in eastern Pennsylvania has lost her bid for a new trial.
Jamie Silvonek, who turns 22 next month, was 14 at the time of the March 2015 slaying. She was sentenced to 35 years to life after pleading guilty in Lehigh County to first-degree murder and other charges.
A state Superior Court panel on Thursday upheld a lower court’s refusal to throw out her guilty plea on the grounds that her legal counsel was ineffective and the plea wasn’t knowing and voluntary.
The Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia, which represented her, vowed an appeal. “We do plan to seek review in the (Pennsylvania) Supreme Court,” spokesperson Katy Otto told The (Allentown) Morning Call in an email.
Silvonek had testified that she plotted the murder of 54-year-old Cheryl Silvonek in Upper Macungie Township and urged Caleb Barnes in texts to carry it out. Barnes, of El Paso, Texas, a Fort Meade, Maryland soldier, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole plus 22 to 44 years.
Authorities said Barnes stabbed the victim in her car in the driveway after Barnes, Cheryl Silvonek and Jamie Silvonek returned home from a concert. Authorities said the defendants then buried the victim’s body and submerged her car in a South Whitehall Township pond. They were arrested within hours of the slaying.
Prosecutors said the woman had threatened to report Barnes, then 21, to police for having sex with her underage daughter. Jurors rejected Barnes’ argument at trial that the girl killed her mother and he only helped dispose of the body later because she said she was pregnant.
Silvonek previously lost her appeal to have her case sent back to juvenile court on the grounds that she has mental health issues. Her previous attorney has defended his representation, saying he called three expert witnesses seeking to have her tried as a juvenile, but once the judge ruled against that his options were limited.