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Apex man found guilty in teen's 2008 slaying

Posted September 24, 2010
Updated September 27, 2010

— An Apex man will spend the rest of his life in prison after a Wake County jury found him guilty Friday of first-degree murder in the 2008 death of a teenage acquaintance.

The jury deliberated for nearly five hours before reaching its verdict. (Watch the verdict being announced.)

Ryan Hare, 19, was also found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and attempted first-degree murder – both in connection with a failed attempt to kill Matthew Silliman on Nov. 25, 2008 – and conspiracy to commit murder in his Nov. 30, 2008, death.

Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway sentenced Hare to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder conviction and 12 to 15 years for each of the other convictions.

"I would like to apologize to the Silliman family for my part in all this," Hare said before he was sentenced. "I don't believe the entire truth is known, but most of it has been."(Watch the sentencing phase of the trial.)

Hare was arrested Dec. 3, 2008, after Wake County sheriff's deputies found Silliman's body in an abandoned trailer in New Hill.

The 18-year-old senior at Apex High School had been bound and gagged and had a plastic bag over his head secured with a zip tie. An autopsy found that he died from asphyxiation but also had high levels of anti-depressants, pain medication and alcohol in his body.

"At a time like this, it is hard to know what to say," Silliman's father, Ben Silliman, told Hare in court. "But I can tell you that, as God gives us the power, we forgive you for what you did to Matt."

Family and friends briefly shared memories of Matthew Silliman, including his 15-year-old sister, who described her brother as her playmate, mentor and role model.

Betty Silliman Jury's verdict in Hare murder trial

"Right after his death, I felt fear, loneliness and had nightmares. I still have difficulty sleeping at times, and sometimes, sadness settles on me even when I'm not thinking about Matt," Mary Silliman said. "At times, my brain is confused, and all I know how to do is cry.

"Almost two years later, I miss him when we walk the dog, cook dinner, play games on Saturday night or I play in the band we both once marched with," she continued. "I miss the way Matt treated me like his precious sister."

Hare's defense attorney, Robert Padovano, argued during the trial that Silliman's death was a suicide and that his client's role was assisting in it. (Watch Padovano's closing argument.)

But prosecutors argued that Hare was a "master manipulator" who was jealous of Silliman and preyed on others' weaknesses to help him in an elaborate scheme to kill Silliman that included a fictional hit man and a grave.

Ryan Hare Ryan Hare sentencing

Prosecutors likened the case to a TV movie, and over eight days of testimony, several witnesses – including two others charged in the case – detailed Hare's alleged "sinister plot" to kill Silliman.

"Ryan did it because Matt kissed his girlfriend," Wake County Assistant District Attorney Jason Waller said Thursday. "That's it. (Matt) made him mad, and he killed him – and Matt thought he was his friend." (Watch the state's closing argument.)

In his closing arguments, Padovano focused on Hare's three co-defendants, who all confessed, and their lack of credibility. Hare was singled out as the leader, he said because he was the only one who didn't confess his role.

"If there were confessions from all four of them, they all would have been facing first-degree murder charges," Padovano said after the trial. "Because he was the one who didn't confess his role, the state had to make some offers. Computers can't testify. They need live testimony."

In exchange for her testimony in Hare's trial, Hare's girlfriend at the time of the crime, Allegra Rose Dahlquist, 19, pleaded guilty last month to charges of second-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and attempted murder in the case. She has yet to be sentenced.

Silliman family friends speaks on verdict Silliman family friends speaks on verdict

Aadil Shahid Khan, 19, also accepted a plea deal last month, but prosecutors filed a motion last week to withdraw the deal, saying he has been uncooperative. That matter will be addressed in court Monday afternoon.

And Drew Logan Shaw, 18, rejected a plea deal and is in jail awaiting trial.

"(Matt) saw all his peers as special," Mary Silliman said. "That is what's so disturbing about the way these kids treated him and took away his life. But I do forgive Ryan.

"I looked forward to seeing my brother Matt grow up, graduate, go to college, get his first job, get married and have his own family," she continued. "These things are lost to me now. I will miss his smile. I will live with this tragedy and think about my brother's death for the rest of my life, but I will be thankful for the years I had with him."

Alan O'Neal, who was Matthew Silliman's Eagle Scout master and friend, was also in court Friday when the jury returned the verdict and Hare apologized to the Sillimans.

"I think, in his own way, he was sincere. I would have much preferred to have him turn around and face the Sillimans and very directly say he apologized," O'Neal said.

O'Neal said the lesson in this case is to for parents and adults to pay closer attention to what young people might be going through.

"They need the support of the community. They need support of the schools," he said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • raleighcoolmom Sep 27, 2010

    As someone who sat in the courtroom every day of the trial, in the jury box, I have to commend the others members of the jury. We saw and heard things in the last 2 weeks that no one should have to witness. The responsibility we shared to decide guilt or innocence was heavy. After carefully reviewing all evidence, direct, circumstantial and testimonial, we reached the only conclusions we could, under the law. There are many lives impacted by this tragedy: friends, families, and now a small group of individuals who performed our service to the citizens of Wake County, who will be changed and affected by this for much time to come. I was unable to speak to this upon leaving the courtroom on Friday; the emotions were just too strong. Iit has taken some days for me to be able to process enough to speak, but I wanted to take this opportunity to do so now.

  • eviltwinbob Sep 27, 2010

    I am upset that you actually breath the same air I do. If you truely believe the postings you wrote, then you need more oxygen to assist your pitifully few brain cells that you attempt to think with. Grow up, get into the real world and stop living in a drug induced dream world.

  • eviltwinbob Sep 27, 2010

    prayn4daylight, Keeping Hare in jail for over five years will send a subtle message to all of those 18 year old "minors" that think about killing their "friends" for kissing their girlfriends. It is illegal; no mtter how much you are sorry, it won't change it; and if you do the crime you gotta do the time. Maybe this"minor" should have thought like an adult and left Matthew alone, allowed him to live, not been so stupid as to kill someone.
    Are you stoned? A friend/family member of Hare's or just metally inept to know that society will punish those that plot, plan and carryout murders on members of society. Be careful if you are a friend of Hare's, you may be next...if you simply kiss his girlfriend. What a crock!
    You seriously need help, or isolation.

  • eviltwinbob Sep 27, 2010

    Did you know Hare? Or do you just live in a make believe world that murderers get a slap on the hand, promise not to murder again and all is well. What planet are you from? This 18 year old plotted, planned then carried out a cold, cruel murder of another human. All of the I am sorries in the world cannot cover up the evil this "person" is. Life in prison, Hare is lucky that the DA's office does not have the stomach for the death penalty. Hare would be on death rowe for 20 years then this world would end his life in a much more humane way that he ended Matthew's life.
    If you want to cry for a life wasted, cry for Matthew's life. Feel sorry for someone, try Matthew's parents. They are now without their son.
    You make me sick!

  • ForTheLoveOf Sep 24, 2010

    Not pure evil? I've seen cold blooded murders who don't look or act pure evil, but that's just it; it's all an act. The ability to apologize means absolutely nothing. What it probably means is he wants people to pity him. Convicts usually try to use the old tug-on-the-heart-strings method to get reduced sentences. Looks like it works...sadly.

  • ForTheLoveOf Sep 24, 2010

    I always find it odd that the defense for a murder is that "he wanted to die". Doesn't matter. Murder is murder. He took a life, so his should be forfeit.

  • rainbooze Sep 24, 2010

    "Hare said before he was sentenced. "I don't believe the entire truth is known, but most of it has been." I think...it is Time for Ryan Hare to cowboy up and tell the ENTIRE TRUTH!!!!

  • Hans Sep 24, 2010

    "I do not believe this kid is pure evil - if he was he would have never apologized to the family and he would have never shook his head when the verdict was read. He just needs a chance"

    A chance? You're acting like he lifted a few DVDs from Walmart or something.

    "I am sorry I just can not see how putting an 18 year old in prison for life serves anyone."

    It might prevent future people from becoming murder victims.

  • prayn4daylight Sep 24, 2010

    I am sorry I just can not see how putting an 18 year old in prison for life serves anyone - its too long when you are that young - a guy who is 74 getting a life sentence has a much shorter time in prison. I will never EVER support the death penalty so life in prison is the better option - but geesh - its just too long for this KID.

  • Iconoclast Sep 24, 2010

    prayn4day "He was a minor, 18, when the crime was commited? Check the the law again. It's been a generation or two since the legal age of majority was raised to 18. HE WAS AN ADULT. He commited an adult crime. He should be executed as an adult.