Major criminal cases coming closer to trial

Brian Brush

SOUTH BEND — In an April 7 phone interview, Pacific County Prosecutor Mark McClain provided updates on four significant local criminal cases.

Each of the cases are in a holding pattern at the moment, but could be resolved by fall, McClain said.

Ayala-Silva, 27, of South Bend, was arrested on Sept. 17, 2015, on suspicion of killing his 11-month-old daughter. He is charged with homicide by abuse, and is being held in Pacific County Jail on $2 million bail.

Ayala-Silva is tentatively scheduled to go to trial Sept. 26 to 28. According to McClain, Ayala-Silva’s attorney asked to delay the trial and any discussion of a potential plea agreement until an expert witness had reviewed the medical evidence in the case.

The expert completed the review recently, but it’s too soon to say whether that trial will actually happen — attorneys need to study the expert’s findings before making any decisions about how to proceed, McClain said.

“We haven’t even had any discussions about whether there is any plea resolution to be had,” McClain said.

Aylward, 46, has been in Pacific County Jail on $1 million bail since his arrest on Jan. 7. He is charged with first-degree incest, first-degree rape of a child, sexual exploitation of a child and possession of child pornography.

McClain said Aylward is currently scheduled to go to trial May 24 to 26. However, it is common for trials to be rescheduled numerous times. Aylward is likely to reschedule, because he just got a new attorney, McClain said.

McClain has extended a plea offer to AyIward.

“They are considering it,” McClain said. “I believe it’s appropriate in every case to try to give a plea offer. Sometimes the plea offer is such that there’s no way that they can take it, or would take it.”

Brush, 53, who was convicted of first-degree murder for shooting his ex-girlfriend Lisa Bonney in 2009, is scheduled for a three-day trial, starting on June 13.

Brush was moved from a state prison to the Pacific County Jail in early August 2015, to await the next step in the extended legal battle over his prison sentence.

Last summer, the state Supreme Court rejected Brush’s exceptional, 88-year sentence. As a result, the county must either sentence Brush within the standard sentencing range for his crime — about 25 to 31 years, minus time served — or hold an abbreviated version of the trial again, focusing on the factors that lead to the exceptional sentence. The second option could potentially allow the county to restore the exceptional sentence, but is riskier and more taxing for everyone involved in the case.

Behind the scenes, Brush, his defense team and the prosecutor’s office have discussed possible ways to resolve the case without going to trial, but have not been able to reach an agreement.

“[Brush] has made a couple of suggestions to us about how we should resolve it and they have all been declined,” McClain said.

Brush’s defense team has rescheduled the trial in the past, and could delay it again, but McClain thinks it could finally happen this summer.

“It’s getting to the point where, why are these continuing this?” McClain said.

Shadday, 41, of Seaview, was arrested on Dec. 23, 2015 and charged with two counts of first-degree child molestation. He is in Pacific County Jail on $500,000 bail.

Currently, Shadday is set to go to trial on May 11 and 12. However, McClain noted that Shadday’s case has been complicated by concerns about whether an attorney Shadday’s family hired was qualified to handle the case. The court recently appointed a new attorney, who might ask to continue the trial, McClain said.

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