Son heads to trial in brutal killing of his father

MEEKER — Sixteen Rio Blanco County residents will spend most of January considering the case of a man accused of killing his father with a hatchet in 2009.

Jury selection will begin Tuesday in the trial of Jerry Snider Jr. He faces charges including first-degree murder in the death of Jerry Snider Sr., who was killed at his   Rangely home over the 2009 Fourth of July weekend.

The younger Snider, 30, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. He remains in Rio Blanco County Jail on a no-bond hold.

The trial will be conducted in Meeker. A court filing shows prosecutors alone list 74 potential witnesses they may call.

Susan Mills, Rio Blanco clerk of courts and jury commissioner, said her office sent out about 300 jury duty notices for the case, compared to perhaps 75 or 80 for a typical one-day trial.

Four alternate jurors will participate in the trial. Ninth Judicial District Attorney Martin Beeson said such a high number is warranted because the length of the trial increases the chances of things happening in jurors’ lives that could prevent a 12-person jury from being maintained.

Snider is accused of striking his father in the head nine times with a hatchet. He also faces an aggravated robbery charge related to allegations that he took his father’s wallet and truck and made purchases with his father’s debit card before turning himself in to the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office near Denver.

During a pretrial conference Wednesday, public defender Tina Fang called for Judge Gail Nichols to prevent some photos of hatchet wounds and resulting blood from being presented to the jury. She said they would trigger an emotional response and aren’t necessary when the defense team is admitting the facts behind the death of Snider’s father.

But Nichols admitted the photos as evidence, saying they show the depth of the wounds, an issue that could be important for prosecutors in responding to a self-defense argument that has been raised by Fang.

Nichols previously has ruled on numerous other motions in the case. She denied a defense motion to move the trial to Garfield County because of pretrial publicity, and a motion by prosecutors to be allowed to introduce evidence suggesting Snider killed and gutted a cat and hung it from a tree in 1997. She wrote that the allegations regarding the cat resulted from an incident that occurred so long ago it was of limited relevance, and that it involved details that are “gory and inherently prejudicial” to Snider.

Nichols also ruled that the jury will be told prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty in the case. If convicted, Snider could face life in prison.


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