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W.Va. woman found to be an abusive parent put on probation for five years

Christina A. Snyder must register with child-abuse registry for 10 years; Nathan A. Snyder faces life in prison

April 11, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A Bunker Hill, W.Va., woman who was convicted of domestic battery in connection with allegations that she and her husband abused children in their custody was placed on probation for five years Thursday in Berkeley County Circuit Court.

Christina A. Snyder, 44, was found to be an abusive parent by 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge John C. Yoder, who ordered her to register with the child-abuse registry for 10 years, but suspended a one-year jail term for the probation. 

Snyder was acquitted of five felony counts of child abuse resulting in injury at the conclusion of a lengthy trial in February.

Her husband, Nathan A. Snyder, 29, faces life in prison after the same jury found him guilty of four felony counts of child abuse resulting in bodily injury.

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Snyder’s sentencing was deferred until after a recidivist trial, which is scheduled for April 24, attorneys said Thursday in a pretrial hearing.

Under West Virginia’s recidivist statute, aka the “three strikes rule,” a person convicted of two felony offenses can see their sentence enhanced to a life sentence if they are convicted of a third or subsequent felony offense.

Indicted in February 2010 on multiple counts of child abuse causing bodily injury, the Snyders were accused of depriving the children of food, shooting them with BBs and bottle rockets, beating them with a spoon and other mistreatment.

Two of the children asked Yoder on Thursday to impose the maximum sentence, but the judge later concluded that imposing the jail term would amount to punishing her for things she had been found not guilty of doing by the jury.

Defense attorney Christopher Prezioso told the court that a domestic battery conviction, by itself, typically would be resolved with a fine in magistrate court, and noted that Snyder already had served 93 days in jail before being released on bond.

Prezioso said Snyder had complied with probation officers since being released on bond and had started studying accounting in college. He also noted that she had been paying child support and that those payments would stop if she was incarcerated.

“In this instance, enough is enough ... we’re asking for time served,” Prezioso said.

One of the children who gave a statement to the court Thursday became tearful as he talked about how they were treated.

He told the judge that he and his siblings now have a “real” mother and father.

Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely also asked the court to impose the maximum sentence for the damage that had been done to the children.

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