By Christina Carrega and David Brand
Mixed Martial Artist Sergio DaSilva was found guilty of third-degree robbery by a Queens Supreme Court jury on Thursday after 23 hours of deliberations over four days.
The jury determined that DaSilva, who fought professionally in the Bellator promotion and goes by the nickname The Savage, climbed over a partition and stole nearly $45,000 from a Citibank a block from his Astoria apartment in August 2017. DaSilva was found not guilty of first-degree robbery, a charge that hinged on whether he used a gun or other weapon.
Surveillance video from the bank showed a masked man with a height and build similar to DaSilva climbing over the 7-foot-high partition, grabbing cash, scrambling back over the wall and exiting the Citibank on Steinway Street. The entire theft lasted 1 minute 19 seconds.
Detectives lifted fingerprints matching DaSilva’s from near the top of the glass partition.
DaSilva was released on his own recognizance following his arraignment in September 2017. He attended each day of the trial surrounded by family members, including his two children who testified that DaSilva was at home with them the morning of the robbery.
Assistant District Attorney Brianne Richards, however, said the children’s presence on the witness stand was meant to elicit “sympathy” from the jury. Richards also questioned the veracity of the children’s testimony nearly a year and a half after the event and pointed to inconsistencies in their description of the day.
“I am not calling the kids liars. I’m not going to go there because they’re too young,” she said. “I submit to you they were mistaken because their parent suggested to them what happened that day.”
“Regardless of the outcome, I just ask that everyone respect my family during these times,” DaSilva tweeted minutes before the jury sent a note to Judge Leslie Leach stating that they had reached a verdict.
During his closing statement Monday, defense attorney David Fish criticized the fingerprint evidence, calling fingerprint identification an “art, not a science.”
He also criticized the prosecutor’s “suggestion that the person you see jumping up over the counter could only be a professional fighter, had to be an MMA fighter.”
“There are a lot of people in this population between the ages of 25 and 35, who can push themselves onto a counter and over a piece of glass,” Fish said.
After the verdict was announced, a male jury alternate appeared visibly upset, shaking his head in disagreement with his arms folded.
DaSilva will remain out of prison until Feb. 28, when he returns for sentencing.
“It’s his first offense, not a flight risk,” Leach said.
DaSilva faces up to seven years in prison.