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Berkeley County man found guilty in child abuse case

Nathan Allen Snyder and Christina Snyder were accused of depriving children of food, shooting them with BBs and bottle rockets and other mistreatment

February 13, 2013

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A Bunker Hill, W.Va., man faces life in prison after a jury Wednesday found him guilty of four felony counts of child abuse resulting in bodily injury, Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely said.

Nathan Allen Snyder, 29, and his wife, Christina Ann Snyder, 44, were indicted in February 2010 on multiple counts of child abuse causing bodily injury. The couple was accused of depriving the children of food, shooting them with BBs and bottle rockets, beating them with a spoon and other mistreatment.

Christina Snyder was found guilty of one misdemeanor count of domestic battery by the jury, but was acquitted of two felony counts of child abuse resulting in bodily injury.

The jury found her husband not guilty of eight felony counts of child abuse resulting in bodily injury, but Games-Neely said she still was satisfied with the outcome after leaving the courtroom.

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“We did not expect to win them all,” said Games-Neely, who thanked the children for “sticking with us” in a long and hard-fought case that took three years to get to trial. 

The grand jury indictments contained 18 felony counts of child abuse resulting in bodily injury against the couple — 13 against Nathan Snyder and five against his wife. One count pending against Nathan Snyder was dismissed during the trial and three felony counts against his wife were similarly dismissed. 

The verdicts concerning the remaining counts were read in court Wednesday at about 2:30 p.m. after the jury deliberated for more than five hours, according to court officials.

Christina Snyder, who is scheduled to be sentenced April 11, faces up to a year in jail for her misdemeanor conviction, Games-Neely said. 

Nathan Snyder’s sentencing, meanwhile, was deferred until after a recidivist trial is held to determine whether he previously was convicted of two previous felonies.

If those convictions are verified by the recidivist trial jury on April 23, Nathan Snyder faces a sentence of life in prison with the opportunity for parole after serving 15 years, Games-Neely said.

The life sentence would replace one of four prison sentences that could be imposed for each conviction of child abuse resulting in bodily injury, Games-Neely said. Snyder faces a one- to five-year sentence on each felony child abuse conviction, Games-Neely said. 

Nathan Snyder was convicted of felony child abuse counts that alleged he punched one child, shot another with a BB gun, choked yet another child and beat a fourth with a metal spoon on the leg, according to court documents. The indictments against the couple alleged that all of the crimes occurred between September 2008 and 2009.

His wife’s conviction on the misdemeanor offense is tied to an allegation that she punched one child in the stomach, according to her indictment.

Defense attorney Thomas Stanley said Wednesday he was sure Nathan Snyder would appeal the conviction, adding that he couldn’t believe the jury found him guilty based on the evidence presented.

“He was convicted on the counts that had the weakest evidence, in my opinion,” Stanley said after leaving the courtroom.

Christina Snyder, who was placed on a supervised bond before leaving the courtroom with her attorney, will receive credit for time already served in jail, Games-Neely said.

A motion by Stanley that Nathan Snyder be released on bond was denied by 23rd District Circuit Court Judge John Yoder, who then arraigned Nathan Snyder on the recidivist petition, which was filed within minutes after the verdicts were read in court. 

Christopher Prezioso, Christina Snyder’s attorney, said that he and his client were “extremely happy” that she was acquitted on all of the felony counts, but still was disappointed by the misdemeanor conviction.

“I just want to thank the jury for their hard work,” Prezioso said.

Jurors began deliberating the case Tuesday at about 3:30 p.m. and resumed deliberations Wednesday at about 9 a.m., according to court officials.

The trial for the Snyders, which began Jan. 29, had been postponed multiple times after it was first set for June 2010.

The delay was due in part to Nathan Snyder’s arrest in December 2010 and subsequent conviction on DUI fourth offense within 10 years and driving without a valid license in Virginia, according to court records and court officials.

Stanley told the court Wednesday that Snyder had been in jail for 27 months since returning from Virginia, where he was ordered to serve 18 months of a five-year prison sentence for the DUI conviction, according to court documents.

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