NW Indiana man pleads guilty to role in 2019 double-slaying

A northwest Indiana man has pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and other charges for his role in the killings of two teenagers fatally shot during a drug-related robbery.

John Silva II, 21, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, attempted robbery and welfare fraud on Thursday, days before he was set to stand trial a second time in the February 2019 slayings.

Silva’s first trial ended last June with a mistrial because jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported.

The Hamlet man was charged with two counts of murder and two counts of attempted robbery in connection with the killings of 18-year-old Thomas Grill, of Cedar Lake and 19-year-old Molley Lanham, of St. John.

A Porter County judge scheduled a May 20 hearing, where he will decide whether to accept Silva’s plea agreement, which calls for a 31-year prison sentence, with 11 years suspended.

Prosecutors allege that Silva sat armed in the basement of a home as backup for Connor Kerner, who was attempting to rob Grill and Lanham when they were killed.

Kerner was convicted in October 2020 of two counts each of murder and murder in perpetration of a robbery, and other charges in the killings.

The Indiana Court of Appeals vacated one of Kerner’s murder convictions in October 2021, shaving 25 years off of his sentence, although Kerner still faces 154 years in prison.

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