DA makes his case against Jerry Snider Jr.

Jerry Snider, Jr.
RBC I Jerry Snider Jr. walked upstairs at his father’s house in Rangely, retrieved a hatchet, returned to the living room where his father was sitting in a recliner and used the sharp instrument to kill his father with nine fatal blows to the head.
That was the testimony of a Colorado Bureau of Investigation agent, who took the witness stand for nearly two hours during Monday’s preliminary hearing in district court.
CBI agent Brooks Bennett said an autopsy report showed Jerry Snider Sr.’s death was “caused by a total of nine chop wounds to the scalp … consistent with being caused by a hatchet.”
Bennet said, “There were eight wounds to the scalp, several which penetrated near the brain and one (wound) near the left ear that was fairly deep also.”
When asked about the sequence of events, Bennett testified that, based on his investigation of the crime scene, Snider Sr. was seated in his recliner when the first strike was delivered and then he was pulled to the floor where the other blows were delivered.
“The first blow came when he was seated in the recliner … indicated by the blood stains,” Bennett said.
Investigators found a blood-stained hatchet in a bedroom of Snider Sr.’s house at 134 Darius Ave. in Rangely.
Based on the assumption Jerry Snider Jr. will be bound over for first-degree murder in the killing of his father, a tentative trial date was set Monday.
Judge Gail Nichols set the trial to start July 26 and, if necessary, run through Aug. 13.
“I feel very strongly we could try this case in three weeks, judge,” said Snider Jr.’s attorney, Tina Fang, of the Glenwood Springs public defender’s office.
Monday’s preliminary hearing, which lasted more than two hours, was to determine if there was probable cause that a crime was committed and if there was enough evidence to require a trial.
“I don’t expect any surprises in the court’s rulings,” DA Beeson said. “Clearly, she wants to get this done quickly. So I expect (the judge’s ruling) within a week. I would not be surprised if she gives it out earlier than in a week, given the sense of urgency.”
Public defender Fang said after Monday’s proceedings, “I can’t answer any questions, because we have limitations on attorney-client privilege. It’s a hard case, everybody recognizes that.”
At issue is whether Snider Jr. acted with enough deliberation to justify trying him on the first-degree murder charge.
“There is, basically, one issue for the court to struggle with, in my opinion, and that is the issue of deliberation,” public defender Fang said. “We’re not asking the court to focus so much on intent, but on deliberation. Deliberation requires reflection and judgment. What you heard (from testimony), the timeframe we’re dealing with, at best, is 30 to 45 seconds. That’s not sufficient to find deliberation for first-degree murder, and I ask the court to turn the case over for second-degree murder.”
Asked by the judge how she came up with the 30- to 45-second timeframe it supposedly took for Snider Jr. to go upstairs, grab the hatchet, return to the living room and start delivering the fatal blows to his father’s head, Fang said, “I just sort of added it up in my head, judge.”
Judge Nichols said she would issue her decision in writing after watching a videotape of an interview with Snider Jr., which was conducted July 5 by a detective in Clear Creek County, where Snider Jr. had turned himself in.
Snider Jr. told a Clear Creek sheriff’s investigator he was wanted for murder in Rio Blanco County, though there was no report of a homicide in Rangely at that point.
Officers conducted a welfare check at Snider Sr.’s residence and “found a deceased male on the floor in the living room with a large pool of blood around his head and no signs of life,” agent Bennett testified.
Snider Jr. is charged with killing his father, Jerry Snider Sr., 50, in his home over the Fourth of July weekend last year. Snider Jr. pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and was ordered by the court to undergo a psychiatric evaluation at the state mental hospital in Pueblo.
While the results of the evaluation have not been made public, a member of the Snider family, who asked not to be identified, said the results showed Snider Jr. was found to be sane and competent to stand trial.
A first-degree murder conviction is punishable by death or life in prison, but District Attorney Beeson said he would not pursue the death penalty.
“In my judgment, it was not a case I felt comfortable in seeking to terminate the life of another human being, though that’s exactly what we believe he did,” Beeson said previously when explaining his decision not to seek the death penalty.
In closing arguments Monday, Beeson disagreed with the public defender’s position on the issue of deliberation.
“That argument is clearly false,” Beeson said. “There is no time requirement … to committing any crime, let alone the crime of murder.”
Beeson argued that Snider Jr. acted with deliberation.
“He’s talking to his brother about how he’s going to do something and make us a lot of money and it will make people very mad at me,” Beeson said. “He’s clearly deliberating this crime. He walks up (behind his father) and he has a purpose in mind. He’s retrieving an object and it’s the hatchet … he retraced his steps and walked back downstairs. He had made his decision before he got to the chair where his father is sitting. He walks over to where his father is sitting and, boom, one of the blows is a severe wound to just under the left ear. He incapacitated his father, but his father is alive at that point. But he says, ‘I’m going to kill my father now, so he won’t suffer.’ There can be no doubt about intent at that moment, in that ‘I want to put him out of his misery.’”
While cross-examining CBI agent Bennett, Fang asked, “Based on review of the crime scene, did it appear there was a struggle?”
The witness said he did not see any signs of a struggle.
Bennett testified Snider Sr. had two life insurance policies, one that had an accidental death payout of $220,000, and both listed his two sons as beneficiaries. Snider Sr. and the boys’ mother were divorced.
Public defender Fang said journals kept by Snider Jr. had been obtained and she asked Bennett if they contained any references to insurance money.
“Not that I’m aware of,” Bennett said.
Family members told investigators that “days prior to the homicide,” Snider Sr. had said “he was not going to help the son any longer” and “he was done helping” Snider Jr. Family members also told investigators that Snider Jr. had “tried to obtain firearms … to get even with anybody who had wronged him,” Bennett testified.
Public defender Fang said Snider Jr. “believed everybody was out to get him … and that there was a $250,000 hit on his head.”
“I object,” DA Beeson said in response to Fang’s comment.
“That’s really not relevant to a probable cause hearing,” Judge Nichols told the public defender.
Fang, when cross-examining Bennett, said that, in the days prior to the homicide, Snider Sr. had taken his son to Rangely District Hospital because “he was starting to hear voices and see things.”
“(Snider Sr.’s) sister confirmed that Snider Jr. had been taken to the hospital by his dad and that he was given medicine at the hospital. They said he was having something called the DTs (delirium tremens or ‘the shakes’) and he (Snider Sr.) was instructed to watch him for 48 hours,” Bennett said.
When Snider Jr. was in custody, the Clear Creek Sheriff’s Office in Georgetown sent him to a psychiatric hospital “because of their concerns about his mental-health issues,” public defender Fang said.
The weekend of the Fourth, Snider Jr. took his father’s wallet and 2001 Chevy pickup and drove to Denver. He was on his way back when he abandoned the truck on I-70 and was picked up by a motorist and taken to the Clear Creek Sheriff’s Office, which is when he told an investigator he was wanted in connection with a homicide in Rio Blanco County.

1 Comment

  1. Questioning this posting. it says jerry sr was hit below the left ear, and jerry jr was behind his dads chair. that would mean he was left handed, and I dont remember jerry jr. being left handed. Maybe he was but . . .

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