Raleigh, N.C. — Jealousy led an Apex man to devise a plan to kill a high school student and to enlist three others to help him nearly two years ago, a Wake County prosecutor told jurors Monday.
"Ryan Hare was the mastermind of this plot," Assistant District Attorney Melanie Shekita said during opening statements. "You might think you're in the middle of a strange fiction movie, but as the evidence unfolds, you will hear it was a sinister plot."
Ryan Patrick Hare, 19, is one of four people whom authorities have implicated in the Nov. 30, 2008, death of Matthew Josiah Silliman, whose body was found two days later in an abandoned trailer in New Hill.
An autopsy found the 18-year-old died of asphyxiation and that he had lethal amounts of prescription drugs and alcohol in his system when he suffocated.
Hare's defense attorney, Robert Padovano, told jurors that the case was not about first-degree murder but about assisted suicide.
Padovano said Silliman was a troubled teen – off his medications for bi-polar disorder and depression – who had tried two months earlier to commit suicide.
Silliman, he said, wanted to die and was at a point where he no longer was "willing to battle his demons."
"Sadly, ladies and gentlemen, his closest friends did nothing to stop that. Sadly, they gave him information that only increased his feelings of desperation," Padovano said. "Sadly, they looked on as Matthew mixed deadly amounts of medications with alcohol that he drank himself. And tragically, they hastened the inevitable by putting a plastic bag over his dying body as he expired."
Shekita, however, said Hare was resentful because his girlfriend, Allegra Dahlquist, 19, was exploring her feelings for Silliman.
"Ryan Hare couldn't let go of the jealousy and betrayal he felt by Matthew Silliman," Shekita said.
Hare, whom Shekita described as a manipulator who knew of Silliman's suicide attempt, masterminded two elaborate plots to kill Silliman and bury him near some railroad tracks in southern Wake County.
The first was a failed attempt; the second involved Dahlquist; Silliman's best friend, Aadil Shahid Khan, 19; and a third teen, Drew Shaw, 18.
The four convinced Silliman that a hit man named "Roger," was out to get him, Shekita said, and that he needed to get out of town.
They lured him to hide out in an abandoned home in New Hill that belonged to Dahlquist's family, and eventually left him in the bathroom, bound with zip ties and his mouth duct taped, choking on his vomit with a plastic bag tight around his head.
"Why would Matt go?" Shekita asked. "He only went because he trusted his friends. He only went because he specifically trusted Aadil Khan, his very best friend."
Padovano, however, said it was Khan was a "master manipulator" and talked Hare into the plot. Hare, who is facing a possible life prison sentence, was only trying to appease his friends, he said.
Khan suspected Silliman was involved with his girlfriend. He went to Hare on Nov. 14, insisting, "something had to be done about Matt," Padovano said.
Dahlquist, he continued, was upset that Silliman had cheated on her.
In other developments Monday, Wake County prosecutors filed a motion to withdraw a plea deal with Khan, saying he was being uncooperative.
Dahlquist and Khan each pleaded guilty last month to second-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and attempted first-degree murder.
Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway said he would hear the motion at a later date.
Silliman's mother was the first witness to testify for the state.
Betty Silliman said her son was an outgoing, friendly teenager who was the "spice" to her "ho-hum family" and that he helped them see life differently.
He was involved in the local church youth group and school activities, and he was an Eagle Scout with 31 merit badges.
In the months prior to his death, however, he began struggling with depression.
"He seemed down," she said. "The spring before, he had had dreams of suicide. He talked to counselor at school about it. He started dressing differently. He started drinking and smoking. He said he had to clear his head a lot. He pierced his ears."
Betty Silliman said her son tried to kill himself and that he was treated at Holly Hill Hospital.
After that, "there were ups and downs," Betty Silliman said, because of the bi-polar disorder. But he never mentioned anything else about killing himself.
"He was still active and going to school and busy with his friends – things like that," she said. "He wasn't, like sitting in his room all the time. He was very busy."
Shaw, who is charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder, took the stand next and said Hare asked for help killing Silliman. Shaw said he didn't take Hare seriously, and Shaw even joked about ways to kill people, based on ideas he heard in songs.
Shaw said Hare seemed more serious and talked about animal tranquilizers and zip ties. They went through "a whole hypothetical murder," according to Hare who called their discussions "speculative, hypothetical ... not like a plan."
The state offered Shaw a plea deal, but he rejected it, according to his attorney. The trial resumes Tuesday morning.