Hatchet-slaying deliberations in sixth day

A Rio Blanco County jury heads into a sixth day of deliberations in Meeker today as it tries to reach a verdict and avoid a mistrial in the monthlong murder trial of Jerry Snider Jr.

A holdout juror reportedly has kept the 12-person panel from reaching a unanimous decision in the case, in which Snider, 30, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

He is accused of killing his father, Jerry Snider Sr., through multiple hatchet strikes to the head at his father’s Rangely home the night of July 2, 2009. He faces charges of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery.

Jury selection in the trial began Jan. 4, and opening arguments took place Jan. 12. Dozens of witnesses were called, and the case went to the jury Feb. 2.

“They’re having a struggle for whatever reason,” said Susan Mills, Rio Blanco clerk of courts and jury commissioner.

“… I guess it does boil down to one juror, and they’re just trying to work it out. They’re trying to get their verdict.”

Mills said the jury sent Judge Gail Nichols a note Monday to ask a question that the jury indicated was crucial to moving forward with a verdict. Mills didn’t know the question’s nature.

She said Nichols instructed the jury to try to find a unanimous verdict and asked the jury foreperson whether jurors thought they could not reach a verdict. The foreperson said jurors wanted to continue deliberating.

The trial originally was scheduled to last through Jan. 27, but it has been behind schedule ever since jury selection took days longer than expected.

Meanwhile, a two-day, six-juror trial involving an assault case started Tuesday and resumes Thursday after a day off today.

“I’m just juggling rooms, juggling a courtroom. We have one courtroom,” Mills said.

Also Tuesday, the arraignment of Daniel Renwick, accused of escaping from an Arizona prison and firing a bullet that struck a Rifle police vehicle before his Aug. 1 arrest in Rifle, was postponed because of defense attorney Tina Fang’s continued involvement in the Snider case.

Snider’s public defense team contends he is a paranoid schizophrenic who heard imaginary, threatening voices from his father before killing him. Ninth Judicial District Attorney Martin Beeson says Snider doesn’t meet the definition for being legally insane because his mental condition was the result of voluntary alcohol and substance abuse.


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