January 4, 2013

Robert Orr's family attempts to pick up the pieces

By Craig Crosby ccrosby@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

WINTHROP -- Not even 43 years can accomplish what might have come with a moment's worth of contrition.

click image to enlarge

At a luncheon after the sentencing hearing for David Silva, convicted of killing Robert Orr in 2011, Orr family members sit behind a photo and Robert Orr's urn, telling stories about the murdered man on Friday, at the Alfred W Maxwell Jr. Post 40 American Legion hall in Winthrop. They are from left, Nancy Mooney, sister, Emily Orr, mother, Robert Orr, son, and Raymond Orr, brother.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

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But for Emma Orr, who watched Friday as David Silva was sentenced to what is likely to be all-but a life sentence for murdering her son, Robert Orr, she said 43 years will have to be enough.

"I expected to see a little more compassion from him, to say, 'I'm sorry,' or something," she said. "We can never forgive him. Usually you can forgive someone, but him? I never could."

Silva, 34, pleaded guilty in Kennebec County Superior Court to the February 2011 murder of 53-year-old Robert A. Orr inside the Readfield home Orr shared with his wife, Janet. Silva and his girlfriend, Lindsay Spence, rented a room from the Orrs for more than a month before Silva shot Orr and burned his house to the ground. Orr's body was found in the debris the next day.

Silva was sentenced to 43 years in prison -- none of it suspended -- meaning he will remain behind bars until he is at least 77 years old.

"I hope he never sees the light of day," said Ray Orr, Bobby Orr's brother, who joined dozens of family and friends afterward at the Winthrop Legion Post 40, where Orr was a master of arms. Orr's family voiced support for Silva's sentence, and expressed relief that they would not have to sit through a trial, but the wounds continue to bleed.

"I thought I would feel different today, but I feel the same," said Christine Orr, Ray Orr's wife. "The only thing that's changed is time. He's still in jail and Bobby's still gone."

Rebuilding lives

Janet Orr has rebuilt a house on a different part of the property she and her late husband owned, but rebuilding her life has proven a much more difficult task.

She hopes Silva's sentencing is the first step.

"It hasn't started yet," she said. "I know I have to. It's going to be weird. You have all your plans and then they're gone."

Janet Orr still is heartbroken that she was unable to honor the wishes of her husband, who so feared fire and cremation. She keeps his remains in a black box etched with the same picture of the Three Stooges that Orr had tattooed on his stomach.

Janet Orr took the box with her to court Friday. She carried her late husband's photo as she tried to tell Silva and the judge what her husband's murder had done to her life.

"I just felt like he should be there," she said. "I feel like it was justice for Bob."

Silva never spoke to the family. He showed no emotion, though family members said he at times appeared to smirk at them as they spoke.

"I really don't think he was all that sorry," said Jillian Orr, Orr's sister.

Silva previously said he shot Orr in self defense. His pleaded guilty under the Alford doctrine, which means Silva doesn't admit guilt but acknowledged he would likely be found guilty in a trial.

The Orr family saw past the legal wrangling.

"It was a victory to hear him finally admit to what he did," Janet Orr said. "I'm glad he manned up."

Bearing burdens

Ray Orr is a police sergeant in Carver, Mass., where Silva grew up and was arrested the day after the murder. Ray Orr is familiar with criminal trials and the awful details that help convict the guilty but can shred the lives of loved ones.

"I was going to attend (the trial). My daughter insisted she was going to as well," he said. "I didn't want her to go through that, for sure. I am glad he pled guilty and saved us that extra burden."

(Continued on page 2)

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