Once a childhood friend of Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Stephen Silva was released from prison this morning. He was jailed following the bombing, when the investigation revealed that Silva had lent a gun – an unregistered handgun – to Tsarnaev on the eve of the bombing. That gun was used to kill an MIT police officer in the shootout following the manhunt for Tsarnaev.
Silva was never charged in relation to the 2013 bombing, but served 17 months in federal prison as a result of his “life of gun-trading and drug-dealing” which the former federal inmate now says he regrets.
“I wish I could go back in time and change my actions. I was young, dumb and thought I could outsmart everyone,” Silva told a federal judge Tuesday. “Your Honor, I’m just pleading for a second chance.”
Judge Mark L. Wolf, a 30-year veteran of the U.S. District Court, presided over the hearing which would determine whether or not Tsarnaev’s friend Silva would be released from prison. Judge Wolf took Silva’s words into consideration and informed the 22-year-old former student that the gun he’d lent to Tsarnaev was used to kill a police officer.
Silva looked down at his feet and said, “I’m sorry for that.”
The judge looked favorably on Silva, partially because he came forward right away. Following the Boston bombings and the identification of the suspects, he informed police that he’d lent an illegal firearm to his former friend Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Federal prosecutors who secured the death penalty for Tsarnaev earlier this year spoke in defense of Silva’s character. Silva testified in Tsarnaev’s trial, providing material evidence against the Boston bomber – his childhood friend.
The judge acknowledged Silva’s assistance in the Tsarnaev trial, reflecting that Silva took a risk when he testified against his former friend, and in doing so demonstrated that he felt genuine remorse for his actions.
“The fact that you did cooperate right away communicates to me that you intend to make your future different from your past,” Judge Wolf said during the hearing, reports the Boston Globe.
Three hours later, Silva was released from federal prison, having served 17 months.
Tsarnaev, also 22 years old, was sentenced to death in June for the act of terrorism planned and executed by himself and his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed during the shootout with police.
While it was never determined which brother shot the officer who was killed by Silva’s gun, Yahoo News confirms that the officer killed by the weapon was an MIT police officer named Sean Collier.
The Tsarnaev brothers ambushed Collier’s police cruiser after the bombing, creeping up in the car’s blind spot, and shot Officer Collier and attempted to steal his gun.
The Massechusetts Institute of Technology dedicated a monument to the fallen police officer, who died serving the school and the people of Boston. The monument, a 190-ton granite sculpture, was officially dedicated in a ceremony this April – Collier’s stepbrother laid the final brick during the emotional ceremony commemorating the life of the officer murdered by the Tsarnaev brothers.
“The sheer size and imposing design of the memorial will ensure that all who pass by this site, whether it’s this week or days from now, or years or decades from now, will know who Officer Collier was, and the spirit he embodied,” said Cambridge Mayor David Maher during the dedication.
The architect of the monument, J. Meejin Yoon, said bringing massive concrete blocks into such a massive sculpture is meant to reflect the notion of what it means to be “Collier Strong.”
Before Silva exited the courtroom, Judge Wolf addressed him one more time.
“You will have to live with the memory of your crimes and conduct, I expect forever,” the Judge said.
[Photo by Getty Images]