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Plea Halts Second Murder Trial

Gary Clarke enters plea to lesser charge as second trial in murder of New London storekeeper Jared Silva begins

A plea entered in the on Wednesday marks the resolution of a longstanding case involving the killing of an Ocean Avenue shopkeeper.

According to The Day, 25-year-old Gary Clarke entered a guilty plea to the lesser charge of first-degree manslaughter with a firearm during the start of his second trial. The plea allows Clarke to be sentenced on Aug. 2 to 40 years, suspended after 25 years, with five years of probation. The state also plans to dismiss charges against Clarke related to a sexual assault, as attempts to contact the victim have been unsuccessful and the victim has made no attempt to get in touch with prosecutors.

Clarke was charged with murder, murder during the commission of a felony, and first-degree robbery in the death of Jared Silva, the 46-year-old owner of Jared's Packy. Silva was shot and killed as he was leaving the store on Oct. 12, 2007. 

Police found Clarke crouching over Silva when they arrived, and Clarke told officers that he had seen two men attack Silva. Police also found Clarke's phone, which he said he had lost during the night, near Silva's body. Clarke's co-defendant, 24-year-old Cosmo Frieson, said he and Clarke had tried to rob Silva and that Clarke shot Silva after the storekeeper fought back and called for help.

Frieson was initially charged with murder in the commission of a felony and first-degree robbery. He later pleaded guilty in June of 2009 to the robbery charge on the condition that he give evidence against Clarke at his trial. Frieson will be sentenced after the resolution of Clarke's case, and may serve up to 20 years in prison.

During Clarke's first trial in January of 2011, the defense said several witnesses called to testify gave different statements from the ones they gave to police. The defense also posited that Frieson or a number of other witnesses could have shot Silva. , which was 11-1 in favor of acquittal on the murder charge and 9-3 in favor of conviction on the robbery and murder during the commission of a felony charges.

Clarke was also charged with first-degree sexual restraint, first-degree unlawful restraint, and third-degree assault in the June 2007 assault and rape of a 42-year-old woman. Police charged Clarke with these crimes in April of 2010 after the woman identified Clarke from a photo lineup and his DNA matched evidence taken after the crime.

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