Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter has refiled a request for the death penalty against Christopher Stevens for the 1993 molestation and murder of 10-year-old Zachary Snider.
The 1995 molestation and murder of the Cloverdale boy drew national attention, prompting the creation of Zachary's Law, which requires convicted child molesters to register their address in a public database.
The case was tried in a Tippecanoe County Court after the case was moved from Putnam County to Tippecanoe County.
The jury voted in favor of the death penalty in 1994. The death penalty had been upheld at all appellate stages until this past summer, when the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals set aside the death penalty convictions for the reasons that his court-appointed lawyers were deemed ineffective.
"The Indiana Attorney General is presently considering appealing this recent decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, but that decision does not stay the order that gives me 120 days to ask again for the death penalty," Prosecutor Bookwalter said.
"I have, over the last three months, reassembled the file and reviewed the record and the evidence. I have also discussed the case with the prosecutors who tried the case for the first time, retired Det. Dick Rice of the Indiana State Police, who was the detective who handled the case, and most importantly, Todd and Sandy Snider, Zachary's parents.
After my review of the evidence, and input from these persons, I have decided to refile the request for the death penalty," Bookwalter said.
"It's important to understand that the convictions for murder and child molesting still stand. The only issue on retrial is whether Mr. Stevens receives the death penalty, life in prison without parole, or a definite sentence in terms of years. Mr. Stevens has the right to a jury trial to determine this," Bookwalter said.
The prosecutor will be assisted by Dick Rick, who has agreed to come out of retirement to help prepare the case, along with Justin Long, a deputy prosecutor who has been working evenings and weekends to assembly the 13-year-old case.
Stevens already had a criminal conviction for child molesting, a class C felony, when he killed Snider on July 15, 1993.
The Putnam County murder case was appealed and the Indiana Supreme Court affirmed Stevens' sentence.
It was a federal appeals court that decided Stevens did not have adequate representation from his court-appointed lawyers.
Bookwalter told the BannerGraphic that if the U.S. Supreme Court looks at the case and agrees with the death penalty, then the sentence stands.
If the sentence is set aside, however, the case will move forward to a new trial in Lafayette, he said.
Tippecanoe Superior Court 2 Judge George Heid, who sent Stevens to death row, has since died.
The Stevens case inspired "Zachary's Law" -- the state law that requires convicted sex offenders to register with local police agencies.