Meeker trial set for man accused of hatchet death |

Meeker trial set for man accused of hatchet death

MEEKER, Colo. (AP) – A man accused of killing his father with a hatchet over the 2009 Fourth of July weekend goes to trial this week in Rio Blanco County.

Jerry Snider Jr., 30, is accused of hitting his father in the head nine times with a hatchet. After the killing, Snider took Jerry Snider Sr.’s wallet and truck and made purchases with his father’s debit card, prosecutors said.

The younger Snider has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. The (Grand Junction) Sentinel reports that jury selection opens Tuesday in Meeker.

The younger Snider’s request to move the trial out of Rio Blanco County because of pretrial publicity was rejected. The jury will be told prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty in the case. If convicted, he could face life in prison.

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. They would trigger an emotional response and aren’t necessary, she argued.

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 sided with the defense over another piece of evidence. Prosecutors wanted to introduce evidence suggesting the younger Snider killed and gutted a cat and hung it from a tree in 1997.

Nichols 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 Jerry Snider Jr.

Court officials anticipate a lengthy trial. Susan Mills, Rio Blanco clerk of courts and jury commissioner, said her office sent out about 300 jury duty notices for the case, compared with 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 panel from being maintained.

Information from: The Daily Sentinel,

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