A Skowhegan man pleaded guilty Friday to three criminal charges in connection with a series of drive-by shootings at homes in central Maine earlier this year.

Dana S. Dasilva

Dana S. Dasilva, 26, entered the pleas via an online hearing through the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta, and was sentenced to serve a total of at least five years in prison followed by five years of probation.

The shootings, which did not result in physical injuries, were nevertheless called “horrifying” by the sitting judge Friday morning, as prosecutors described Dasilva’s apparent motive as sending a violent message to an ex-girlfriend and people connected to her.

Judge Bruce C. Mallonee accepted Dasilva’s admissions as part of a plea agreement with the prosecution, calling the shootings “one of the most horrifying things I’ve ever seen.”

“This is most unusual and there’s a ripple effect,” Mallonee said. “All of these people have spider-webs of people and connections that care about them, and all of these people were hurt (by the trauma of the incident).”

Dasilva pleaded guilty to a Class B felony count of reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon; a Class C charge of possessing a firearm by a prohibited person; and a Class D charge of criminal mischief.

The charges stemmed from drive-by shootings that Dasilva committed on Jan. 4 this year in Waterville, Winslow and Clinton. 

No one was injured in the shootings at four separate locations, but a bullet barely missed one of the victims and children were inside some of the homes at the time, authorities said.

Asked by Mallonee “what this was all about,” District Attorney Maeghan Maloney cited a combination of Dasilva’s drug use and domestic violence-related motivations. Dasilva fired upon the home of his ex-girlfriend and at homes of people connected to his ex-girlfriend, she said.

Dasilva “wanted to continue to show her she could not get away from him,” Maloney said. “We believe he was also on illegal drugs on the day in question.”

Had the case proceeded to trial, Maloney said the prosecution would have proven Dasilva’s guilt in the shootings through eyewitness testimony and other evidence. Following the shootings, police identified Dasilva as a suspect and interviewed him, and he waived his Miranda rights and admitted to committing the crimes, Maloney said.

Dasilva told police that his current girlfriend, Michelle N. Luce, 25, of Anson, drove around to the locations while he sat in the backseat and fired at homes, according to Maloney. Luce faces one count of Class B hindering apprehension in connection with her involvement in the case.

Dasilva told police that he had later thrown the gun into the river, but police later recovered the weapon at his home in Skowhegan, Maloney said.

Friday morning, Dasilva declined the judge’s offer to speak on his own behalf, but his attorney Lisa Whittier said her 26-year-old client “is a young man who has shown to me remarkable insight into the wrongfulness of his own behavior.”

Whittier said Dasilva shows “very good prospects for rehabilitation” and is “extremely sorry for what he put all of these victims through.”

Under the sentence, Dasilva received 10 years, all but five years and one day suspended, three years of probation, to be followed consecutively by a suspended three-year sentence and two years of probation. That results in Dasilva serving at least five years and a day in prison, followed by five years of probation, with the potential to serve an additional eight years if he violates probation.

He will be sent to the Maine State Prison to serve the sentence.

Whittier, noting that her client had spent at most 30 days in jail on previous convictions, said of Friday’s outcome: “This is not a light sentence.”

“And he’ll be on probation for five years total — that’s a very long time,” she said.

Dasilva’s mother appeared in court during the plea and sentencing Friday, and Whittier said her client “has a very supportive family through his mother.”

Dasilva was also ordered to pay $3,215 in restitution to the victims: $1,851 for Clinton property; $864 for the property on Whipple Street, Winslow; and $500 for damage to a Chevy Traverse.

Conditions of probation include completing certified batterers’ intervention and domestic-violence court; no criminal activity; not owning, possessing or using any firearm or dangerous weapon; not using or possessing illegal drugs and alcohol; substance use evaluation and treatment; and a psychological evaluation and treatment. He was also ordered not to associate with anyone on probation without permission of probation officer; to pay all fines and fees; to have no contact with all victims and or with Luce, the co-defendant; and to random search and testing.

“This is a substantial sentence and these are very serious offenses,” Mallonee, the judge, told Dasilva toward the end of Friday’s hearing. “I can’t tell you every bad thing that will happen as a result of having two felonies on your record, and you understand that if found guilty of anything in the future, the sentence will be more serious.

“I really hope that in five years and a day, when you get out, you will have grown into a different stage of your life with different understandings. Even if can’t make amends to these people directly, perhaps you can make up for it to others.”

 

 

 

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