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Murder trial begins for man accused of killing Fairhaven teacher

FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — The murder trial is underway for Joshua Silva, the man accused of killing a former Fairhaven educator in 2013 in order to steal her jewelry and sell it for heroin.

Prosecutors say Silva worked at Fairhaven Lumber and was doing work on the home of Joyce Howland on 12 Hamlet Street in Fairhaven when he brutally killed her on Oct. 14, 2013.

After opening statements, prosecutors began calling witnesses including Collette Sylvia, a friend of Howland’s and a member of the group “sociable singles.”

Sylvia testified that Howland did not show up to the group’s trivia night scheduled for Oct. 14, 2013. When Sylvia went to check on her the next morning, she found Howland’s body in the bedroom.

“She goes to her house calling for her, and ultimately ends up in the bedroom where she finds her friend, face down, blood around her, dead,” Bristol County Asst. District Attorney Katie Rayburn said in court.

Prosecutors also played security tape for the jury from outside the Pasta House in Fairhaven, shortly after the time prosecutors say the murder took place. A manager from the restaurant testified he watched a man toss something on the ground outside the restaurant. When he went outside to pick it up, it was a prescription label bearing the name Joyce Howland.

Paul Dias, a co-worker of Joshua Silva who worked on Howland’s house with him, testified Silva told him of the plan to kill and rob Howland, but Dias didn’t think Silva was serious.

Silva’s attorney, Chris Belzeos, says there’s no direct evidence tying his client to the murder.

“This is a circumstantial case from beginning to end,” Belzeos said.

Belzeos said he plans to present evidence during the trial, including autopsy photos, that will provide jurors with the reasonable doubt needed for an acquittal.

The trial resumes Thursday with a jury visit to the crime scene in Fairhaven.

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