Inquest on shooting underway

Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Cape Girardeau police investigated the scene following a fatal shooting at 2857 Themis St. on Feb. 14. (Aaron Eisenhauer)

At the beginning of an inquest held at the Cape Girardeau Court of Common Pleas Tuesday night, Cape Girardeau County Coroner John Clifton informed the three men and three women on the jury of their obligation to determine whether the death of Zachary C. Snyder was a felony or justifiable homicide. Snyder was shot to death Feb. 14 by Steven R. Julian, a fugitive apprehension investigator for the state Department of Corrections.

Dr. Russell Diediker, a forensic pathologist, testified that Snyder died of a single gunshot wound. The autopsy revealed Snyder was shot in the back, because the bullet entered through his left shoulder blade and exited through the right side of his chest, puncturing his lung and right part of the aorta, a major artery.

No other significant injuries were found, he testified.

Cape Girardeau officer Darin Hickey responded to 2857 Themis St. around 7:10 p.m. after learning a parole officer requested help serving an arrest warrant. On the way to the address, he heard over dispatch that the officer had shot the man he had wanted to serve with the warrant.

Several people had gathered in the parking lot by the time he arrived, he testified.

Leslie Tyler, a friend of Snyder, was leaning over the victim, crying and shaking while pressing a towel to his back to control the bleeding.

Julian stated, "I shot him in the back," Hickey testified.

In response to the statement and seeing the victim's injuries, Hickey seized Julian's weapon, a Glock 22 .44-caliber semiautomatic handgun.

Julian described arriving at the parking lot, getting out of his car, identifying himself and instructing Snyder to place his hands on his vehicle, which he did, Hickey testified. Snyder turned, lunged with both hands outstretched toward Julian, then turned and acted like he was going to start running when Julian shot him.

"He just kept repeating himself," Hickey said.

Officer Robert Ross testified he collected the spent shell casing from Julian's weapon and photographed the crime scene.

Crime scene investigation supervisor Joseph Tado testified he collected evidence at the scene. The spent slug was never located.

Tyler, a resident at the apartment complex, was cooking dinner when Snyder knocked on his door and asked if he could stay. Tyler, who had already been contacted by Julian and told there was a warrant for Snyder's arrest, refused to allow him to stay, he testified.

He then called Julian to notify him of Snyder's whereabouts, Tyler testified.

"I kind of paced around my house for a little while wondering what was going to happen," he said.

He met Snyder outside and was talking with him when Julian pulled up, got out of his car, weapon drawn, grabbed Snyder and had him lean on the vehicle.

"Zach yanked from him and went to run, and that's when I heard fire," he said.

"As soon as he yanked, the shot was fired," he said.

Amanda O'Dell, 19, Snyder's ex-girlfriend, testified she saw Julian step from his car with his gun drawn and shoot Snyder when he took off running toward a nearby gas station. She said she never saw Snyder place his hands on the car.

Just before Julian arrived, Snyder told O'Dell he loved her and planned on turning himself in but wanted to go to St. Louis and say goodbye to his little girl first, O'Dell testified.

Pamela Dintelmann, a tenant at the apartment complex, testified she ran into her apartment terrified when Julian pointed a Taser at her as she tried to help.

"I honestly thought it was just some crazy guy," she said.

335-6611, extension 245

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