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Milwaukee man sentenced to 18 years in death of local pastor

By Daniela Prizont-Cado

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    MILWAUKEE (WDJT) — A 23-year-old man has been sentenced to 18 years in the death of a local pastor — 12 years in prison, followed by six years of extended supervision, Thursday afternoon.

Jose Silva plead guilty in February to homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle in the death of well-known Milwaukee Pastor Aaron Strong.

“Because of Jose, I needed to pick out a casket and a burial plot and plan a funeral service for my 40-year-old husband,” said Abbie Strong in tears during her testimony during the sentencing hearing Thursday.

She, alongside Pastor James Huebner (who is also a community leader at Grace Lutheran Church), and Adam Glodowski, who was one of Strong’s dear friends since 1996, started the hearing with their testimonies.

“My friend didn’t just die, he was killed,” said Glodowski. “A selfish, thoughtless and careless act.”

Pastor Hubner spoke of the great impact Pastor Strong made in his community.

“A huge impact on a congregation of ours of a thousand members, it’s not just that easy to replace a pastor,” he said.

According to officials, Silva was driving to jury duty the morning of Oct. 12, 2022.

Security footage captured by Marquette University was shown in the courtroom on Thursday. It captured multiple angles of moments Silva was driving the wrong way, ran a red light near 10th and Wells, and ultimately crashed into a car that was being driven by Strong, shortly after dropping his two kids off at school.

An investigation revealed the crash involved a total of six cars, two of which were in motion and four that were parked.

Silva was driving approximately 74 miles per hour in an area with a speed limit of 30, and prosecutors said Silva’s alcohol/blood levels obtained by the Milwaukee Police Department found .193. In Wisconsin, it’s illegal to drive if your blood alcohol content is at or exceeds 0.08% and Silva’s more than doubled as he had been drinking the night before in his home.

“Judge the sentence you give today is temporary,” said Mrs. Strong as she concluded her remarks. “The sentence that Jose inflicted on our family is permanent.”

Silva’s two older sisters, Margie Wade and Natalie Mizysak, spoke about what a kind-hearted person Silva has always been.

Wade spoke of their family dealing with a tough upbringing as their father suffered from a longtime alcohol and drug addiction. Wade said this tragic incident made them see that their brother was also dealing with a drinking problem.

“On behalf of my entire family, we apologize to Aaron’s family,” Wade said in tears. “This horrible tragedy has destroyed both our families.”

The courtroom was absolutely packed, with some people even turned away initially if they were unable to find a seat. Everyone was silent, many with tissues as tears streamed down their face, and others praying.

“If I could take it all back today…” said Jose Silva during concluding statements. “But I know I can’t, this is reality…I took a life, something I never thought I’d be saying…I regret what I did…one day I hope to be able to forgive myself, I know I’ll never forget it.”

The judge said this sentence was more than a consequence, it was a message to the community.

“Reckless driving, drunken driving, homicides, will not be tolerated by anyone in our court system,” she said.

Silva was ordered to serve 100 hours of community service while on extended supervision and pay restitution of $806.55 to Strong’s family.

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