Snider sentenced to life without parole

RANGELY I After more than two years, two trials and two convictions, 31-year-old Jerry Snider Jr. was sentenced to serve the rest of his life in prison without the chance of parole for the murder of his father, Jerry Snider Sr. In addition, as a habitual offender, the court sentenced Snider Jr. to an additional 48 years for aggravated robbery to be served consecutively.
“We are indeed satisfied with the sentence imposed in this case,” Ninth Judicial District prosecuting attorney Martin Beeson said. “This defendant is an extreme danger to any community. What he did to his father demonstrates that he is capable of doing anything to anyone at any time. That he is now off the streets for good should be a tremendous relief for all. He is precisely where he belongs with no hope of ever breathing free again. This has been our goal from the beginning. The public can now rest assured that it is forever safe from him.”
Snider Jr. turned himself in to authorities in Georgetown, Colo., July 3, 2009, triggering a search of his father’s Rangely, Colo., home. The elder Snider was found dead on his living room floor. His wallet and truck were missing and the murder weapon, a hatchet, was discovered at the Snider home.
Jerry Snider Jr. was charged with first degree murder and aggravated robbery and held in the Rio Blanco County jail until a January 2011 jury trial in Meeker. Represented by public defender Tina Fang, Snider Jr. pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
Judge Gail Nichols presided over the case after the 12-person jury was selected. After more than three weeks of testimony, the jury deliberated the case but did not reach a unanimous verdict. Judge Nichols declared a mistrial and Fang motioned for a change a venue.
A new trial date was set for May in Glenwood Springs, where a jury of 12 convicted Jerry Snider Jr. of first degree murder and aggravated robbery.
“We have no control over those matters,” Beeson said of the length of the trials and the mistrial. “We simply present our witnesses and the facts of the case to the jury, make our arguments, do the best we can and then leave it up to the jury to make its determination. We came up short the first time around but we were never of a mindset to give up, nor were we ever of a mindset to settle the case in such a manner as would give the defendant even a fleeting chance of ever being free again, that was never an option. Our job is to protect the public and we were determined to do just that. It is our hope and belief that we have accomplished that goal.”
Many family members of the victim were present at both trials and their presence was recognized by Beeson and Judge Nichols.
“The family’s presence throughout the hearings in this case and throughout both trials is a credit to their strength,” Beeson said. “It is also a credit to their devotion to the victim in this case, ‘Brother Jerry.’ Their unceasing expression of faith in the prosecution trial team throughout this process was tremendously encouraging for us and for that we will be forever grateful.”
Three family members spoke before the sentence was imposed, including one of the victim’s sisters, who said she loved Jerry Jr. too but, “I loved my brother, I loved him so much,” she said.
One of Jerry Snider Jr.’s aunts also expressed her love for the defendant and sorrow for the loss of life.
“I want Jerry (Jr.) to know I love him and we are all going to miss his dad,” Dorian Kenney said. “I strongly believe Jerry (Jr.) needs mental help but he is still loved and ‘big’ Jerry will be missed.”
When asked if he would like to speak, Snider Jr. declined the offer.
Judge Nichols became emotional as she viewed a photo of Jerry Snider Sr. placed in the courtroom next to the prosecutor’s table. and spoke of the of the victim she never met and his family.
“It’s nice to have that picture there,” Nichols said of the photo of a man she never met. “He was a hard worker, a loyal worker with a never-ending patience with his son but that was his way of life, he was quite and unassuming and did not want to impose his problems on others.”
Nichols said she appreciated all the relatives and siblings and how difficult it must have been for them to be witnesses in the trial.
“This is really an amazing family, who faced this tragedy with courage, but the family seems to have survived without being consumed with anger,” Nichols said.
The judge also thanked the Fang and the defendant. Before entering her sentence, she spoke to Snider Jr. “You’ve heard it so much, it’s obvious you did not address your drug and alcohol problem and there is not much more I can say about that, it wasn’t done,” Nichols said.
“Your relatives, despite what happened, still see good in you and I certainly do, too. You have a very nice smile, you are an artist, your drawings are incredible. The best thing I see is you do acknowledge you need punishment and you do accept what you did was very wrong. I also believe you suffer from it but I think you make excuses that are not valid,” the judge added before handing down the sentence.
“The sentencing is finished now, so we can start the appellate process of the convictions and sentences, which typically takes several years,” Fang said.
Beeson said his office will not be involved in the appeal process, which will be handled by the state Attorney General’s office.
“We are confident, however, that both the convictions and the sentence will be upheld on appeal,” Beeson said.