Maine State and Clinton Police say three Clinton teenagers died early Sunday morning, Feb. 9, 2020 when the car they were passengers in slammed into a tree on the Hinckley Road in Clinton, Maine. Credit: Courtesy of Maine State Police

Maine’s highest court on Thursday rejected the sentencing appeal of a Clinton teenager who killed three friends in a joyride crash 13 months ago. Timothy Silva, 17, was sentenced in December to Long Creek Youth Development Center in Portland until his 21st birthday for manslaughter.

His attorneys argued last month before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court that the sentence was too harsh and Silva should have been sentenced to home confinement because the main goal of Maine’s juvenile justice system is rehabilitation, not punishment.

In sentencing the teenager, District Court Judge Charles Dow said that Silva’s incarceration was necessary “because a lesser sentence will depreciate the seriousness of the juvenile’s conduct.”

The supreme court justices unanimously agreed.

“Whether to detain this juvenile was an exceedingly difficult decision,” Justice Ellen Gorman wrote in the opinion. “The [judge] was required to simultaneously consider the juvenile’s interests, the public’s interests, and the victims’ interests, knowing that whatever [sentence] it fashioned would neither heal the pain of the victims’ loved ones nor turn back the clock for Silva, whose life will also be forever changed by his actions.”

The justices concluded that the sentence Dow imposed and the process he used to reach that decision complied with Maine’s juvenile laws.

Silva admitted that, in February 2020 when he was 16 and did not have a driver’s license, he took his mother’s 2007 Toyota Corolla without permission, picked up four friends, and drove around town.

Shortly before 7 a.m. on the morning of Feb. 9, he sped up so he could get one of the victims home before a parent discovered he was missing. He was driving at about 85 mph in a 40- to 45-mph section of Hinckley Road when he hit ice, lost control of the car, left the road and slammed into a tree.

Thomas “Tommy” Porfirio, 15, Emily Baker, 14, and her sister, 12-year-old Ashlin Baker, all of Clinton, were killed in the crash. First responders found them dead inside the car when they arrived at the crash site.

Nevaeh Wilson, 12, of Clinton, and Silva were injured but recovered.

Kennebec County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney, whose office prosecuted Silva, said Thursday that she appreciated the court’s “careful reasoning and guidance.”

“The criminal conduct in this case devastated our community,” she said. “As stated in Maine statute, a lesser sentence would ‘depreciate the seriousness of the juvenile’s conduct.’”

Silva’s attorney, Walter McKee of Augusta, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the decision.