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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Stevens' death penalty trial back on

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Former Cloverdale resident Christopher Stevens will be back in court facing a possible death penalty following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to deny his appeal.

Stevens' 1994 murder and child molestation convictions stand. He will go before a jury in Lafayette to determine whether or not he will receive the death penalty.

No court date has been set yet.

Tim Bookwalter, Putnam County prosecutor said, "He will be in front of Judge Thomas Bush. Judge George Heid, who originally tried the case, is now deceased."

Bookwalter has already discussed the retrial with Todd and Sandy Snider, the parents of Zachary Snider, the 10-year-old boy Stevens was convicted of molesting and killing on July 15, 1993.

Information on the Web site www.clarkprosecutor.org said Stevens was convicted of child molestation in Marion County in Feb. 1993 and received a four-year sentence with three yeas suspended and probated. His probation was transferred to Cloverdale, where he returned to live with his father.

Apparently none of his neighbors knew of his past conviction. Zachary Snider was often seen in the company of the 20-year-old Stevens, who often videotaped Snider's little league games, the site said.

At one point, Todd Snider, Zachary's father, warned Stevens to stay away from his son after he found out Stevens had taken Zachary fishing. A month later, Zachary turned up missing. He was last seen at a friend's home. Zachary told his friend he was going to Stevens' home, the site said.

As a search for Zachary was launched, Stevens' brother reported to police that Stevens had confessed to him that he murdered Zachary. He then directed police to a remote location near a bridge where Zachary and his bicycle were found. Stevens was arrested and gave a full confession, the site said.

On March 14, 1995 Stevens was sentenced to death with the aggravating circumstances being that the child he molested was less than 12 years old and the fact he was on probation.

The mitigating circumstances were that he gave a confession to police, was only 20 years old at the time of the murder, that his parents were divorced when he was a child, his father had been jailed for molesting his stepsister, mother jailed for drug dealing, he received mental health treatment for depression in 1992, and "was of average intelligence with good insight but was manipulative, shallow and had poor impulse control," the site said.

Stevens' trial drew national attention and led to "Zachary's Law," which requires all convicted sex offenders to register with a searchable database.

The original trial was moved to Tippecanoe County due to the amount of exposure the case received in Putnam County. The assertion was that Stevens would not have received a fair trial, so a change of venue was pursued.

The Indiana Supreme Court first heard the appeal on Dec. 31, 1997 but affirmed the ruling. It was a federal appeals court that decided Stevens did not have adequate representation from his court-appointed lawyers.

In December, Bookwalter re-filed a request for the death penalty.

At that time, he 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 re-file the request for the death penalty."

"It's important to understand that the convictions for murder and child molesting still stand," Bookwalter continued. "The only issue on re-trial 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."

Rice, who agreed to come out of retirement to help prepare the case, along with Justin Long, a deputy prosecutor who worked evenings and weekends to assemble the 13-year-old matter, assisted the prosecutor.

Bookwalter said it would probably be around a year before the trial actually begins. With the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to deny the appeal, the case has returned to the Putnam County Prosecutor's Office and the lap of Lafayette Superior Court Judge Bush.

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-- Posted by whatweretheythinking on Wed, May 14, 2008, at 5:16 AM

This story rekindles a lot of bad memories, I for one, can't imagine what the parents of Zachary are going through. I pray that the sentence will at least, never let Stevens out again. God bless Todd and Sandy.

-- Posted by Xgamer on Wed, May 14, 2008, at 6:14 AM

This whole thing should have been taken care of the first time around. Zachary's family should not have to go through this again. I remember how traumatic this was for the Cloverdale community and my daughter. She was a year behind Zachary in school.

The mitigating circumstances were that he gave a confession to police, was only 20 years old at the time of the murder, that his parents were divorced when he was a child, his father had been jailed for molesting his stepsister, mother jailed for drug dealing, he received mental health treatment for depression in 1992,and "was of average intelligence with good insight but was manipulative, shallow and had poor impulse control. Is this supposed to make everyone feel sympathy for him? Other people have similar backgrounds and have gone on to lead productive lives without molesting and murdering a child.

-- Posted by cloverlady on Wed, May 14, 2008, at 6:24 AM

Oh no. He did the crime. Doesn't matter the age or background or whatever. One just doesn't go around committing these kinds of crimes and then hope someone will feel sorry for them! THINK before acting in the first place! Those poor parents! No one should have to go through this the first time but then to appeal because he's what, scared? Can he bring Zachary back? Then why does he think he should be "excused" for such a horrible horrible crime? He's better now? Come on..........

-- Posted by bannerstuff on Wed, May 14, 2008, at 8:56 AM

Please pray for God's will to be done. Pray for comfort and strength for Todd and Sandy and their entire family. Pray for the jury and Judge Thomas Bush to be guided by God's judgement and not just man's judgement. Personally, whether "right or wrong" I will accept God's will, but hope this very sick minded man gets put to death. It is the only justice he deserves.

-- Posted by proudmomma on Wed, May 14, 2008, at 12:00 PM



-- Posted by GREG1018 on Wed, May 14, 2008, at 7:27 PM

I thought this was taken care of a long time ago. This, too, traumatized my oldest who went to school with Zachary, as well as the entire little league community, and town. Stevens confessed to the crime - he knew/knows right from wrong. I'm sorry about his background, but there are many others in our community who come from less than ideal families and do something positive with their life ...... it's about choices, and he made his.

-- Posted by Scripted Spontaneity on Thu, May 15, 2008, at 10:30 AM

I want to clarify something I'm not sure if people are understanding properly. He is not being retried for the crimes committed. Those convictions stand. All that is being retried is his death penalty conviction that was originally handed down to him.

-- Posted by kevincrafton on Thu, May 22, 2008, at 10:26 AM

Well what gives you people the right to judge you are not God, by killing Stevens you are murdering as welll murder is murder no matter what the situation is and you freaks of God will answer when it comes to judgment day for your crimes, as far as bookwaler is is a pig and mudering sob with power to do as he wish and abuse as he does may God have murcy on his soul, I am standing by steens on this issue yes what he did was wrong and he should do his time for it but not be murdered for it if this were your son or daugher all yoy fraeks would view this issue so much diffently and that is bad shut up and move on with this

-- Posted by ortman1984 on Sat, Jun 21, 2008, at 12:53 AM

an as far as zackery parents the are wrong for wanting christopher killed it will never bring back Zack and wanting another soul killed is just as bad as what happen to zack the bible says thy shall not kill remember people or did that thought leave you corrupt minds? having that in there hearts is a sin as well and they and the community will answer on judgemnt day grow up move on and forgive now this is getting out of control here, MURDER IS MURDER people

-- Posted by ortman1984 on Sat, Jun 21, 2008, at 12:57 AM

Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter is a joke he is a murder himself, by allowing the death peanalty to stand he is just as bad a killer, murder, veditive over zelous prosecuter looking to futher his own political ajenda the bible states THY SHALL NOT KILL yes Christopher Stevens was wrong for what he did and we all make mistake and he will awser to God for his errors and ways but what give the courts, prosucter the right to execute prisioner it still is murder they are takeing a life themselves and there is no different from what Christopher Stevens did murder is murder reguardless... it is wrong and i pray for there souls they will awnser to God on judgement day as well... Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter let it go grow up move on your MURDER

-- Posted by ortman1984 on Sat, Jun 21, 2008, at 1:00 AM

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