Teen Girl Who Texted Boyfriend 'She Needs to Go' to Be Tried as Adult in Mom's Murder
Jamie Silvonek is the youngest girl ever charged as an adult with homicide in Lehigh County
A 14-year-old Pennsylvania girl charged with her mother’s murder will be tried as an adult, a judge ruled Thursday, PEOPLE confirms.
Jamie Silvonek sent a series of texts to her 21-year-old boyfriend, Caleb G. Barnes, ahead of her mother’s death, including, “She needs to go” and “I want her gone.”
Cheryl Silvonek, 54, of Upper Macungie Township, Pennsylvania, was found dead on March 15. Police have said that Barnes stabbed Silvonek multiple times in the head, neck and torso while Jamie watched. Both are charged with Silvonek’s murder and will be tried separately.
Jamie’s attorney, John Waldron, had argued that the teen was influenced by the much-older Barnes and should be tried in juvenile court.
Speaking to PEOPLE after Thursday’s hearing, Waldron said he wasn’t surprised by the judge’s decision.
“The way the hearing went, and some of the questions that the judge put forward to one of my experts, I just had the feeling that the judge might be leaning towards allowing my client to be tried in adult court,” he says.
His client, however, is “devastated” by the ruling. “Now her possible sentence could be much more serious, and the facility where she will be housed focuses more on punishment rather than rehabilitation,” Waldron says. Jamie faces a sentence of 25 years to life if convicted.
Lawyer: 14-Year-Old Jamie ‘Enamored’ With Adult Boyfriend
Waldron tells PEOPLE that Jamie was “enamored” with Barnes and would have done anything for him. “He had control of her,” he says. “She’d be constantly calling him or texting him or sneaking around with him and doing things that she wouldn’t normally do.”
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On the day that Silvonek was killed, Waldron says the mom showed Barnes a birth certificate proving that Jamie was 14. (Jamie had previously lied to Barnes, telling him she was a high school student.)
“He was faced with reality that day that she was 14, she was in eighth grade. He was having sexual relations with a minor and he was facing a felony,” says Waldron. “He’s commited a felony and the only one that knows about it is Cheryl Silvonek. It’s in his best interest to eliminate that individual.”
Lawyer: She Never Had Intent or Desire to See Her Mom Die
Barnes has insisted that he acted alone and that Jamie had nothing to do with it, but investigators say the texts recovered from Jamie’s phone prove otherwise.
“They hurt,” Waldron says of the texts. “But I have experts who say that she was never going to follow through. She never had intent or desire to see her mom die. [In the messages], there was never any indication of when or how this would happen.”
The couple allegedly killed Silvonek because of her refusal to allow her daughter to date Barnes. After allegedly attacking Silvonek, Jamie and Barnes allegedly buried her in a shallow grave, then went to buy bleach to clean up the crime scene. Police arrested them later that day after finding them together in bed.
But since her mother’s death, Jamie has barely been able to keep it together, says Waldron. “She usually is in tears whenever I see her. She says how much she misses her mom, she can’t believe this happened. She cries and cries.”
He adds: “It’s just a nightmare.”
Jamie and Barnes are being held without bail while they await trial.