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Defense: Apex teen's death assisted suicide, not murder

Posted September 23, 2010

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— The fate of a man accused of conspiring to kill and then murdering an Apex teenager nearly two years ago now lies in the hands of a Wake County jury.

Both the state and the defense presented closing arguments Thursday morning in the murder trial of Ryan Patrick Hare, 19, who is charged with first-degree murder in the Nov. 30, 2008, death of Matthew Josiah Silliman.

The 18-year-old senior at Apex High School was found bound and gagged with a plastic bag over his head in an abandoned trailer two days after his death.

An autopsy found that he died from asphyxiation but also had high levels of anti-depressants, pain medication and alcohol in his body.

Hare's defense attorney, Robert Padovano, argued that the death of Silliman, who suffered from depression and bipolar disorder, was a suicide.

"I told you that Ryan Hare acknowledged some criminal responsibility, some criminal conduct in the death of Matt Silliman, and I told you that his role was not that of first-degree murder," Padovano told jurors. "It was assisting in suicide."

But Wake County Assistant District Attorney Jason Waller said that Hare hated Silliman because Silliman had kissed Hare's girlfriend.

"It's absurd to think that Matt ended up like that on his own," Waller said of the way investigators found his body on Dec. 2, 2008. "What killed Matthew Silliman on the night of 11/30 was that bag, was that duct tape, was that zip tie tied tight."

Waller called Hare a "master manipulator" who preyed on others' weaknesses and plotted an elaborate scheme to lure Silliman to an abandoned trailer in New Hill, where Silliman thought he was hiding from a fictitious hit man named Roger.

"I think we know who Roger is," Waller said. "It's one and the same. Ryan is Roger. I'm not talking about some split personality here. Ryan Hare uses Roger when he gets in trouble."

The jury must consider four charges: two counts of conspiracy to commit murder, one count of attempted first-degree murder and one count of murder, which they must decide is either first-degree or second-degree.

If convicted of first-degree murder, Hare would be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Prosecutors have likened the case to a TV movie, and over eight days of testimony, nearly two dozen witnesses, including two other people charged in the case, detailed Hare's alleged "sinister plot" to kill Silliman.

Co-defendants Drew Shaw and Allegra Dahlquist (Hare's girlfriend at the time of the crime) testified that Hare had tried once before to kill Silliman and that, when the attempt failed, Hare convinced Silliman that he was trying to fake his death so that Roger would think he was dead.

The night Silliman died, they testified, Hare failed to knock him unconscious with a hammer and then gave Silliman an ultimatum to either be killed or kill himself.

"He's got his friends coming in with zip ties," Waller told jurors. "He's got a guy who's already hit him in the head with a hammer. What kind of choice is that? He numbed the pain. He did the best he could. He knew what was coming."

In his closing arguments, Padovano focused on Hare's co-defendants, who confessed and their lack of credibility.

"Ryan Hare was singled out as the leader, the mastermind of all this for one reason," Padovano said. "Of the four, he was the one who did not go to police and confess his role."

Jurors had deliberated for about three hours Thursday when Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway called for court to resume, thinking the jury had reached a verdict.

Court officials said the foreman unwittingly signaled to the court that there was a decision when the jury had actually wanted to ask for an afternoon break.

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  • newhillhorse Sep 24, 2010

    Thank you 2thec! See there should have been NO plea deal for Allegra this just plays into doubt. But in my opinion not reasonable doubt. You can say "supposedly" all you want. You are presented with evidence and lot of it. What about the chats? What about the witnesses (friends, girlfriends, police officers) that don't have plea deals. To convict him of 2nd degree murder is to say to say 1) it is not premeditated 2) lack of consern for human life. Obviously, the second is undisputable. The first one... can you argue that this wasn't premeditated? So if you are arguing that they might be leaning to 2nd degree... I beg to differe. Either they will convict him of 1st degree - that he caused the death of Matt OR he did NOT commit murder and he is not guilty of the charge of murder. I don't understand why convicting him of 2nd degree murder was an option for the jurors. I don't think anyone can dispute that this murder was planned. There are SEVERAL charges against him.

  • joekathyjoekathy Sep 24, 2010

    It is disgusting to take advantage of someones weaknesses i.e. depression,bi-polarness, adoption history etc. They kicked Matt when he was down and used this to their advantage and his loyalty to his peers away to beat down an gain their trusts all part of the conspiracy to his final demise.

  • LovemyPirates Sep 24, 2010

    Hurray for justice!

  • stephalford Sep 24, 2010

    VERDICT IS IN!!!! GUILTY---FIRST DEGREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NOW THE SENTENCING....

  • JAT Sep 24, 2010

    heart - with all due respect, you cannot know 100% sure what Matt would have done. I'm sure there was no one who thought the other 4 would have done those things either despite any other troubles they may have had.

  • stephalford Sep 24, 2010

    and i agree with you jat...i can see someone leaning towards 2nd degree...not that i want that, but i can see it. fyi, aadil placed the tape over his mouth. hare did, supposedly, tightened the zip tie as far as it would go. i am curious to know what aadil did or what he wouldnt agree to with the state and why they took his plea deal off the table...maybe he wouldnt agree to ryan tightening the zip tie...hmmmmmm

    ready for a verdict already. i really feel they will go with 2nd degree. i am hopping for 1st...

  • LovemyPirates Sep 24, 2010

    It's not "beyond all doubt," it's "beyond reasonable doubt." These are different.

  • heartin2abridge Sep 24, 2010

    JAT, we can debate the facts forever, and yes, Matt was not a choir boy. But he was not evil like those three. He would never have put a bag over someone's head, ziptied it, and then head to Wendy's for something to eat. Those kind of actions are different from telling a lie or being promiscuous. And you shouldn't necessarily believe everything said by the witnesses. Some of them have a track record of being less than truthful.

  • JAT Sep 24, 2010

    djd - The evidence I heard could lead someone who was against 1st degree murder to lean toward thinking he just told the others what to do and they did it. I can totally see someone doing that. Allegra got the pills; Matt willingly drank the wine and took the pills; Shaw was lookout; they did the ties; Allegra put the bag over his head; I missed the part of what Adil did so I can't comment on that. It all boils down to how much you can believe Allegra and Shaw and with Allegra admitting to being "girlfriend" now with Shaw, you'd have to question how much she'd deflect from him and try to put on Hare.

    Don't get me wrong - I totally think they should all get 1st degree but I can see how someone wouldn't decide that way. I bet if there was a manslaughter option, most would choose that one.

  • 88gta Sep 24, 2010

    JAT how did you come to the conclusion that "the others did MOST of the dirty work"? I have not heard any evidence to support that.

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