Judge Dantos denies Silvonek’s recusal motion
Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas Judge Maria L. Dantos rejected Jamie Silvonek’s recusal motion June 3 at the county courthouse in Allentown.
Silvonek’s new legal team pushed to transfer her case to juvenile court and overturn her guilty plea.
Silvonek was 14 when she was charged as an adult with first-degree murder and sentenced to 35 years to life when she pleaded guilty in the killing of her mother, Cheryl Silvonek, in 2015.
Co-defendant Caleb Barnes of El Paso, Texas, a soldier at Fort Meade, Md., was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole.
Silvonek testified at Barnes’ trial that she plotted the murder and urged her boyfriend, via a series of texts, to carry it out. Authorities said Barnes stabbed Cheryl Silvonek in her car.
Silvonek’s new attorneys Tracy Quinn and Senior Attorney Karen Lindell from the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia were seeking a trial under the Petition for Habeas Corpus and Post-Conviction Relief Act Petition Motion for Recusal.
Quinn alleges Silvonek’s former attorney John Waldron was ineffective.
This legal team says Silvonek’s guilty plea was involuntary because of Dantos’ previous involvement with the case.
Her legal team also wrote in a petition that Silvonek’s past traumas should be considered.
The attorneys were met with resistance by Dantos.
Dantos said she did not handle the guilty plea negotiations incorrectly.
“I will state nothing was done inappropriately,” Dantos said. “I am denying the motion for recusal.”
Silvonek, who was handcuffed, wore a brown prison uniform during the hearing. She remained silent and maintained a stoic appearance.
Her father, David Silvonek, declined to comment to The Press as did Law Center attorneys Quinn and Lindell.
Dantos gave prosecutors 60 days to hand over the discovery documents to Silvonek’s new legal counsel.
“Once I have discovery, I will review it,” Dantos said.
Dantos asked both prosecutors, Chief Deputy District Attorney Heather Gallagher, and Silvonek’s new legal counsel “I will be hearing from counsel in 60 days?”
It is unclear when for what date the next hearing will be scheduled.