Re-enactor pleads guilty in shooting

Published 7:32 am Friday, June 26, 2009

ISLE OF WIGHT— A 30-year-old Norfolk man pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge in the accidental wounding of a 73-year-old Civil War re-enactor in September.

Joshua Owen Silva agreed to plead guilty to one count of reckless handling of a firearm, a Class 1 misdemeanor, in Isle of Wight County Circuit Court on Wednesday.

Isle of Wight County Commonwealth’s Attorney Wayne Farmer said Thursday that Silva has also agreed to pay the victim, Thomas R. Lord Sr. of Suffolk, approximately $1,200 to help cover his medical bills from the Sept. 27 incident. Farmer said he believes Silva has already paid about $600 of the restitution requirement.

Another part of the plea agreement mandates that Silva complete a firearms safety course before his sentencing hearing on Sept. 16.

“He has an opportunity to have the charge dismissed,” Farmer said. “I expect that he will.”

If convicted, Silva could be sentenced to a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Farmer said he discussed the plea agreement with Lord before it was offered.

“He was satisfied with it,” Farmer said. “His primary concerns were that (Silva) plead guilty and that he take responsibility for his actions.”

The charge stems from a shooting at the county’s Heritage Park during the filming of a Civil War documentary. Lord, a Union re-enactor, was shot in the back with a pistol. A .45-caliber lead ball went through Lord’s shoulder blade and exited his chest. He was rushed by helicopter to a hospital in Norfolk for treatment, and released two days later.

“There was no evidence that I saw that suggested that Silva knew the gun was loaded beforehand, or that he intended to shoot anyone,” Farmer said. “If there was, then the outcome of this case would have been different. I am satisfied that this was a just outcome.”

Investigators were able to identify a man who allegedly fired the shot by looking through 10 to 15 minutes of footage from at least two cameras. They questioned that man, whom police believed to be a walk-on in a Confederate uniform and not a re-enactor, on Oct. 31. It was not clear if Silva was the man who was questioned by investigators.

A grand jury directly indicted Silva on Jan. 12. He voluntarily surrendered to authorities on Jan. 22.

Alderwerks, a Virginia Beach production company, was shooting the documentary about the 1864 Overland Campaign. Casting VA of Washington, D.C. handled the casting, and Matt Burchfield was the director for the film.