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Murder Suspect’s Mother: My Son Was A Target
by Ethan Fry | Feb 25, 2013 6:14 pm
Jacqueline Diaz knows her son is no saint.
But she insists he’s not a killer, either.
Diaz is the mother of Cordaryl Silva, the Ansonia man accused of murdering Javon Zimmerman — a distant relative and a suspect in a Valley-wide drug investigation — last May in Derby.
Silva had been working as an informant with Ansonia police, who were trying to build a case against Zimmerman and his alleged drug-dealing crew.
Diaz spoke extensively about the case during an interview with the Valley Indy last month, saying her son is being blamed for a murder he did not commit.
She said her son had himself become a target of the drug gang, not because they had found out he was an informant, but because he was a rival dealer.
Things came to a head on that night May 12, when she said Zimmerman and members of his crew went to RJ’s intending to kill Silva — but that the bullets meant for her son hit Zimmerman instead.
“Right now they’ve got my son looking like a monster, while the monsters are still out there,” Diaz said.
Derby police are standing by the department’s investigation, saying Diaz’s claims don’t hold water.
“We did not get the wrong guy,” Lt. Justin Stanko said.
The case against Silva is summarized in a 16-page affidavit written by Stanko and Detective Sgt. John Netto.
In the document, which was used to obtain an arrest warrant, police say bad blood had been simmering between Silva and Zimmerman in the weeks before the shooting.
Police said both men had connections to an organized group — Zimmerman family members and their associates — who sold drugs in the Valley.
Silva’s older brother apparently had connections to the gang, according to police.
Authorities think the animosity was linked to Silva’s belief that the Zimmerman family had stopped giving money to his jailed brother to use in a prison commissary.
Police initially said they had trouble getting witnesses to talk about the shooting, despite the fact it happened in a crowded parking lot.
But two witnesses eventually identified Silva as the shooter, according to the affidavit. Silva was also spotted on surveillance video in the area running from the scene, according to police.
Finally, Silva also allegedly told detectives he had feared for his life on the night of the shooting, but stopped short of saying he pulled the trigger.
Diaz conceded her son was running that night, but said he wasn’t trying to evade police.
“He was running for his damn life,” she said.
Diaz said Zimmerman and his friends went to the bar that night around closing time planning to kill her son.
“I was supposed to be the one in mourning,” she said. “Those boys were not coming to the bar for a drink or girls at 1:51 a.m.”
Diaz said one of Zimmerman’s associates received a phone call from within RJ’s saying Silva was there. Diaz believes the tip came from the uncle of a witness to the shooting.
“They arrived with a shooter and their plan was to kill my son,” Diaz said.
So if police — and the witnesses cited in the affidavit — don’t have the correct info about the shooting outside RJ’s that night, what actually happened?
Diaz said her son told her Javon Zimmerman spotted him in the RJ’s parking lot, got out of a car, walked toward him and said “Fuck this shit.”
Zimmerman was the aggressor, according to her son.
“The next thing you know shots were fired, and he (Siva) just took off and started running,” Diaz said.
Diaz believes someone from Zimmerman’s own crew wanted to kill Silva, but the bullets hit Zimmerman instead. She claims her son only found out later that Zimmerman was dead.
According to the affidavit, an autopsy performed on Zimmerman’s body determined he had died from two gunshot wounds, and that two bullets were recovered from his body.
But why would Zimmerman’s crew target Silva?
Did the Zimmermans find out Silva was, in fact, an informant, feeding police info about who allegedly sold drugs for Zimmerman’s crew and where the drugs were kept?
Diaz says no.
Her son was targeted, she said, because he had for years spurned attempts by the Zimmermans to draw him into their gang.
“I don’t paint my son like a saint because he ain’t no saint,” Diaz said. “He was out there, doing his little dirt, selling a little drugs, just like Javon. These kids were out here.”
All the players — Silva, Zimmerman — had deep Valley roots, especially in Ansonia.
“They’ve been trying to get Cordaryl to go with them for a long time,” Diaz said. “Cordaryl’s his own guy. Cordaryl said ‘No, because you’re heartless.’”
Diaz said the drug crew is responsible for much of the street-level violence the lower Naugatuck Valley has seen in recent years.
Ansonia police made similar statements in June, when an 11-house raid spanning five towns resulted in the arrests of the several of the crew’s alleged leaders. Police believe the crew is connected to a number of violent incidents in the lower Naugatuck Valley, including the broad daylight killing of man on Derby’s Hawthorne Avenue. The group is also connected to an ambush-style shooting on Derby’s Chapel Street that happened around the same time.
Article continues after video of Ansonia Police Chief Kevin Hale talking about the gang’s history of alleged violence.
“These are known murderers,” Diaz said. “Killers.”
The feud between Silva and the Zimmermans went back years.
Diaz said Silva’s worries about his safety prompted her son to work with Ansonia police, who were trying to bring down the drug-dealing organization.
Silva was also trying to get off the streets in the weeks before the killing, but Diaz said he couldn’t get his probation officer to get him into a treatment program for substance abuse.
Silva has a criminal record that includes convictions for drug dealing and a non-handgun weapons possession, but his mother said carrying a gun wasn’t his thing.
“All the time he’s been in this town he’s gotten busted for drugs, running from the cops, not turning himself in, (but) never got caught with a gun,” Diaz said. “Never got caught with a gun. Never was out here for shooting. None of that.”
Diaz dismisses the police accounts of interviews with her son described in the affidavit as cops “trying to cover up their mess.”
According to the affidavit, police recorded at least two of the conversations they had with Silva while investigating the shooting.
Diaz said that her son’s involvement in the drug investigating made him a convenient suspect in Zimmerman’s murder.
With the prime suspect of the drug probe dead, she said police salvaged what they could out of the drug investigation by executing a series of raids on June 1, during which they arrested several members of the organization.
Diaz claims police told the suspects that were rounded up in those raids that Silva had helped bring them down. Police then used the pending drug charges as leverage to get statements implicating Silva in Zimmerman’s murder, Diaz said.
She also questioned police using Silva as an informant if they knew a feud was escalating between him and the Zimmermans.
“Why would you have him working with you?” she asked.
‘Where The Hell Were Y’All At?’
In addition, Diaz wondered how the car Zimmerman arrived in at RJ’s the night of his death was driven from the crime scene after the shooting without the police knowing.
Investigators were able to determine where the car went because Ansonia police had been tracking it using a GPS device as part of their drug probe, according to court documents.
The warrant used to charge Silva said that the car “was moved at the request of the first responding police officers in order to accommodate the arrival of EMS personnel” and that “The vehicle was later driven from the crime scene without the knowledge or consent of the investigating officers who were on-scene.”
That weakens the case against her son, Diaz said.
After the shooting the car went to an address on Cottage Street in Derby, where one of Zimmerman’s associates lived, then traveled to Webb Terrace and High Street in Ansonia — and then a Waterbury address.
The vehicle was eventually seized at a diner by Waterbury police a few hours after the shooting.
By that time, Diaz argues, the people who accompanied Zimmerman to the bar that night could have disposed of whatever evidence linked them to the shooting — and gotten their stories straight about what happened.
“Where the hell were y’all at?” Diaz said. “Where the hell is this car? They were allowed to go to three places.”
“If Waterbury had to intercept it, where the hell was Ansonia and Derby?” she went on. “This was two hours after it happened.”
‘Cordaryl Shot Javon!’
Stanko, the Derby police investigator, dismissed Diaz’s claims outright earlier this month. He noted that everything Silva’s mother is bringing up was never brought up by Silva himself — and police talked to him numerous times during the investigation.
“He was given ample opportunities during the course of the investigation to give his side of the story,” Stanko said. “Never once did he assert that someone shot at him and missed. That’s the first that we’re hearing of that. And there’s nothing to support that, whatsoever.”
Stanko said Silva was the focus of the murder investigation because he was identified as a suspect relatively quickly.
Zimmerman’s mother, Carolyn, told the Valley Indy a day after the shooting that she suspected Silva in the shooting.
According to the affidavit, an RJ’s patron reportedly entered the bar moments after the shooting shouting “Cordaryl shot Javon!”
In addition, the document says an unnamed female told a Derby police officer at Griffin Hospital — where several of Zimmerman’s friends and family had gathered after the shooting — that Silva had told her he was waiting for Zimmerman and was going to kill him.
“We only focused on her son because he was the suspect from the very beginning,” Stanko said. “Nothing else jumped out, ever, that contradicted that.”
Stanko said he doubted Zimmerman’s associates could have cooked up a bogus story implicating Silva.
“In terms of people concocting a story, they would have had to concoct it pretty quickly,” he said. “Nothing was ever developed in the investigation that pointed to another person.”
Stanko also disputed claims that the witnesses who gave statements implicating Silva have been given lenient treatment.
“To the best of my knowledge, nobody got out of jail free,” Stanko said.
Lt. Andrew Cota, a spokesman for the Ansonia Police Department, said he could not comment on the Zimmerman investigation because he does not want to jeopardize the outcome of the case.
Regarding Diaz’s complaints about police using Silva as an informant, Cota said in an e-mail: “We do not comment on the use and/or identification of our confidential informants or anyone that gives us information.”
The Court Case
Now, with her son facing a murder charge and held in a Suffield prison on bonds totaling more than $2 million, Diaz says she can’t even get in touch with Silva’s attorney, Lawrence Hopkins, who was appointed as a special public defender in the case.
She said Hopkins hasn’t handled the case properly, and that he should not have waived a probable cause hearing that would have forced prosecutors to elicit testimony from the witnesses to the shooting and allow them to be cross-examined.
The Valley Indy left a message seeking comment at Hopkins’ office Jan. 31.
On the morning of Feb. 1 an assistant from his office called back to say Hopkins was currently trying another case and couldn’t talk about the specifics of Silva’s case or Diaz’s complaints.
“Mr. Silva’s case is currently on the trial list in Milford and is proceeding in due course,” Hopkins said in a statement the assistant read over the phone.
Last month Silva rejected a plea offer that would have seen a recommended prison sentence in “the 30-year range,” prosecutor Charles Stango said in court.
Silva rejected the plea offer out of hand, so discussions never got too specific, Hopkins said at the time.
Meanwhile, Diaz said her family is trying to pool together what resources they have to hire a private lawyer for her son.
She said Silva believes he’ll be exonerated — eventually.
“He’s just as calm as a cucumber,” she said about her son. “He’s like ‘Ma, I know I didn’t do it.’ He’s reading his books. He’s not tossing in his sleep, you can believe that.”
“He’s doing all right,” she added. “He’s just mad because he has nobody in his corner to help him. It’s like the whole world is against him.”
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