District attorney won’t pursue death penalty

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Jerry Snider, Jr.
RANGELY I Jerry Snider Jr. is charged with taking the life of another person — his father.
However, the attorney prosecuting the case won’t seek to condemn Snider to the same fate.
In a motion filed in December, district attorney Martin Beeson said he won’t pursue the death penalty in the first-degree murder case.
“It’s never an easy decision when you’re talking about a decision that involves taking the life of another human being,” Beeson said. “We don’t take that decision lightly. It’s not something that we flip a coin over. We talk about all of the elements of the case and we just strive to make the best decision we can under the circumstances, given the evidence we have and given the input of the family.”
Asked about the family’s wishes, Beeson said, “I can’t get into that … but we included their input in the decision-making process.”
Ultimately, after carefully studying the issue, Beeson said the decision is his alone to make. And in the Snider case, Beeson determined the death penalty was not the right course of action to take.
“Not in my judgment,” he said. “I’ve got to make the final call. And, 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.
“It’s an extremely difficult process and decision and one that is best reserved for the most extreme cases and cases involving the victimization of children,” Beeson added.
Facing first-degree murder charges in the death of his father, Snider pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. The judge in the case — Gail Nichols — ordered Snider to undergo psychological testing to determine if he was sane and if he was competent to stand trial.
While results of Snider’s psychological evaluation have been kept confidential, the case is moving forward.
“I can’t say that you’re correct or incorrect,” district attorney Beeson said in response to a question about whether Snider was found mentally fit to stand trial. “It is a confidential document. That’s not something I can comment on, beyond that. If I did, I’m sure the judge would have my head, and rightfully so.”
Snider’s case, however, continues to work its way through the legal process and move toward a trial.
“The only thing I can say is that the judge indicated the preliminary hearing was set for the 22nd of March, and she indicated she would maybe like to get the trial set for late July,” Beeson said.
Asked how long a trial may take in the Snider case, Beeson said, “I suspect it would be longer than a week and hopefully shorter than a month.”
In another case, Beeson confirmed the district attorney’s office has taken over the investigation of a domestic call, an event which preceded a fatal car crash Jan. 19.
“We have been requested by the Meeker Police Department to conclude this investigation and we are in the process of doing that now,” Beeson said.
Meeker police responded to a domestic violence call at 4:53 a.m. Jan. 19. A little more than two hours later, three members of a Meeker family were involved in a two-vehicle accident on Highway 13, about a mile outside of town.
“The Meeker Police Department terminated its investigation and we resumed the investigation upon receiving the request from the Meeker Police Department to do so,” Beeson said.
The day following the crash, a 9-year-old boy died from injuries he had sustained. His 12-year-old sister was seriously injured in the crash, but she was released from the hospital three weeks ago and is now home recovering.
Beeson said the investigation is made even more difficult because it involves the death of a child.
“It’s a situation where I would give almost anything to just say we’re going to drop it and not pursue it any further because of the humanness of it,” Beeson said. “But there are certain statutes required of my office and it’s beyond our control. It’s so tragic, I wish I could turn a blind eye to it, but as an officer of the court, sworn to uphold the laws of Colorado, I can’t.”