OROVILLE, Calif. – The Butte County District Attorney’s Office said it is waiting on autopsy results in an apparent homicide case that happened over the weekend in a holding cell at the Butte County Jail.
As a result, the suspect in the case, 23-year-old Michael Borgman, was released Wednesday pending a determination of the cause of death of the victim, according to Ramsey.
Borgman had been held in the death of Sherman Silva, 43, of Chico, after a struggle between the two men in a “sobering cell” at the jail. Ramsey said formal charges could not be brought within the legally required 48 hours deadline after an arrest to keep a person in custody.
Borgman and Silva were together in a sobering cell in the Butte County Jail. Both men had been arrested on the evening of March 6. Silva was arrested by the Chico Police on a felony parole violation warrant and was placed in the cell as he was suspected of being under the influence of drugs. Borgman was arrested by the CHP for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.
While Borgman and Silva were in the sobering cell, the two became involved in a fight. When a correctional deputy arrived, he found Silva unresponsive, Ramsey said. Corrections deputies rendered first aid and medical assistance arrived, but Silva never recovered and was later pronounced dead.
Ramsey said the district attorney and sheriff’s investigators determined that when the correctional deputy arrived at the sobering cell, the deputy observed Silva and Borgman lying together on the floor against a wall. Borgman’s arm was around Silva’s neck and head and that Silva was lying face down toward the floor on top of Borgman. When the deputy entered the cell, he ordered Borgman to release his hold on Silva. The deputy said Borgman immediately released his hold on Silva and complied with the directions of correctional staff.
In an interview with investigators, Borgman claimed Silva was the initial aggressor. Borgman described being punched and then charged by Silva. According to Borgman, because of Silva’s charge, Borgman’s back and head were slammed against the cell’s concrete wall. Borgman stated he reached around Silva’s head and neck to establish and maintain a hold on Silva to stop and mitigate the continued assault. Borgman explained while he had ahold of Silva, Silva continued to punch Borgman. Borgman said he maintained his hold until the correctional deputy arrived.
Ramsey said an examination of Borgman’s injuries showed injuries consistent with Borgman’s claim of self-defense.
Silva’s remains were transported to the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office for an independent forensic examination. But Ramsey noted the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office said it could not pronounce a cause of death until toxicology results were received on blood samples taken from Silva. Without a cause of death, the prosecution could not proceed in the case.
The District Attorney’s Office is waiting on toxicology results and the autopsy before they proceed with the case.