Case Update: Lisa Snyder Will Attempt Insanity Defense in Hanging Murders of Conner (8) and Brinley (4)

Brinley and Conner Snyder
Brinley and Conner Snyder.
(PEOPLE)

As is often the case with particularly heinous murder cases, Hose Beast Lisa Snyder and her defense team plan to try getting her off the hook by claiming insanity or mental infirmity. They’re also attempting to suppress damning evidence against her, because of course they are.

Lisa called 911 on September 23, 2019, claiming she had discovered her children, 8-year-old Conner and 4-year-old Brinley, hanging in the basement of her home in Kempton Township (Berks County), Pennsylvania. Three days later, on the afternoon of September 26, the kids were removed from life support at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest. Conner Seth Snyder and Brinley Louise Snyder, who shared a close sibling relationship in life, were pronounced dead just 14 minutes apart. 

From the start, Lisa’s story was fishy. She claimed Conner had facilitated a murder-suicide, taking his sister’s life as well as his own, due to depression from being bullied at school. However, investigators quickly determined that Conner had not been bullied, and in fact, the only person talking about bullying at all was Lisa herself.

Lisa Snyder mugshot
Lisa Snyder’s booking photo.
(Berks County Jail System)

All evidence in the case points to premeditated murder by the children’s mother, Lisa, who was arrested in December of 2019 and has been held without bail in Berks County Prison ever since. For more details, you can read my previous blog posts about this case; you can also listen to my coverage of the case on episode 29 of Suffer the Little Children Podcast.

Lisa’s defense attorneys, Dennis G. Charles and James J. Burke, filed a 43-page motion ahead of her most recent status hearing, which took place on Thursday, November 12, 2020.

The motion contained several requests, including a request for other charges against Lisa to be separated from the murder charges, because, according to the attorneys, these additional charges have no bearing on the case and “will impermissibly inflame the passions of, and unfairly prejudice the jury.” The “additional charges” in question are those related to photographic and other evidence that Lisa forced the family dog to participate in various sexual acts, for which she has been charged with cruelty to animals and sexual intercourse with an animal.

The Snyders’ dog, Boomer, in his new home.
(Crime Chicken Fried)

Also included in the motion was a request for a change of venue due to extensive pretrial publicity in Berks County, as well as a request to withhold evidence from the jury, including Lisa’s statements to police, crime scene photos, Lisa’s Facebook messages, items seized during physical and digital searches, and her online search history.

Lisa’s searches, according to police, included subjects such as suicide, drug overdoses, how to kill someone, and death by hanging. Her attorneys say the searches have not been authenticated, and the “lewd, lascivious and taboo nature” of the evidence could prevent her from being given a fair trial.

Based on the nature and details of this case, I can’t imagine any scenario in which a judge would allow the charges to be separated or the evidence to be excluded, but time will tell.

Ugh: Lisa Snyder.
(Facebook)

In the filing, Lisa’s attorneys state that their client has a “chronic history of severe mental disorders” that began when she was 16 years old, including major depression with psychotic features, anxiety disorder, affective disorder, and postpartum depression. When the children were killed, the document continues, Lisa suffered from severe, chronic major depressive disorder, borderline personality disorder, and symptoms consistent with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), multiple personality disorder, and dissociative disorder. This, the attorneys claim, led her to believe Conner and Brinley were being put in physical, psychological, or emotional pain by others and gave Lisa a “desire to protect her children from feelings of abandonment and/or to alleviate the painful feelings and situations they were experiencing at the time.”

The Morning Call recently published a story comparing the Snyder story with that of Andrea Yates, who calmly drowned her five children — Noah (7), John (5), Paul (3), Luke (2), and Mary (6 months) — in the family bathtub on June 20, 2001. Andrea was initially convicted of murder in 2002, but her conviction was subsequently overturned due to false testimony from a prosecution witness. In 2006, Andrea was found not guilty by reason of insanity and has spent the past 13+ years in a Texas mental institution.

Andrea and Rusty Yates and their children
The Yates family.
(San Antonio Express News)

In the Yates case, there was absolutely no question: Andrea was severely mentally ill and in the throes of well-documented psychosis when she killed her children, believing they were destined to burn in hell for eternity unless she ended their lives while they were young and innocent. 

Murdered Pennsylvania children Conner Snyder and Brinley Snyder standing in front of a brick wall
Conner and Brinley Snyder.
(Scallywag & Vagabond)

As for Lisa Snyder, in my humble opinion, there is no evidence whatsoever — even if she did suffer from mental illness or personality disorders — that she was psychotic at the time of Conner and Brinley’s deaths. Their murders were cold, calculated, and premeditated, and her story afterward was clearly concocted to absolve herself of responsibility. I very much doubt the insanity defense will do her any good whatsoever, but in all fairness, her attorneys are likely throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks. At this point, they may think the best they can do is prevent her from being sentenced to death.

In addition to the bestiality-related charges, Lisa Snyder has been charged with first-degree murder, third-degree murder, tampering with evidence, and endangering the welfare of children. Prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty against her, although Pennsylvania has not executed anyone since 1999. Lisa’s next court hearing is scheduled for February 12. 

Click here for my ongoing coverage of Conner and Brinley’s case.

Sources: 69 News, The Morning Call

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