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Man who killed pastor in reckless driving sentenced to 18 years

12 years will be spent in prison, with 6 years in extended supervision
Posted at 10:02 AM, Apr 20, 2023

MILWAUKEE — The man who killed beloved pastor Aaron Strong was sentenced Thursday to 12 years in prison followed by six years of probation.

So many people showed up to Jose Silva’s sentencing that the judge told everyone without a seat to watch from the hallway. On one side of the courtroom, a congregation and a family seemed closure. One the other side, Silva’s family and friends begged for leniency.

The 23-year-old walked into the courtroom to learn his prison sentence six months after killing a well-known pastor while on his way to serve on a jury at the same courthouse.

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“I’m here to be the voice of my husband,” Abbie Strong said.

Back on the morning of October 12, Abbie’s husband Aaron had just dropped off their two kids at school and was heading to work at Grace Lutheran Church in downtown Milwaukee.

Meanwhile, Silva was running late for jury duty. New surveillance video shown in court shows him running several red lights and going more than twice the speed limit into oncoming traffic before he smashed into Aaron’s car and killed him.

“Because of Jose I now have to be a single parent,” Abbie said. “our weekly activities now include going to a therapist to process this trauma.”

Silva wasn’t just driving recklessly. A blood test found his blood alcohol content at the time of the crash was more than twice the legal driving limit at .193.

“All the pain I’ve caused with this never seems to leave my mind,” Silva said. “I pray for them often.”

Despite not having a prior criminal record, Judge Jean Kies said Silva’s actions are worthy of a stiff sentence. She also said she wants the sentence of 12 years in prison to send a message to the community that reckless and drunk driving comes with serious consequences.

Abbie told TMJ4 afterward that the sentence was longer than she anticipated.

“I couldn’t believe it. I was not expecting 12 years,” she said. “I was not expecting 6 years of probation, extended supervision, and a hundred hours of community service. It’s a lot. It’s a lot for Jose’s family, there are no winners here. Nobody’s going home happy today. We are all heartbroken and we all are devastated by the acts of October 12.”

Abbie says the sentence makes her want to keep fighting for change to prevent other families from losing loved ones to reckless driving.

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