Trial of former fugitive apprehension agent to begin today

Monday, September 29, 2008
AARON EISENHAUER ~ aeisenhauer@semissourian.com Department of Corrections Officer Steven Julian was charged with involuntary manslaughter after a coroner's inquest in the death of Zachary Snyder on Tuesday, February 26, 2008.

A jury trial begins today in Callaway County for Steven R. Julian, a 46-year-old Altenburg, Mo., man facing a manslaughter charge after allegedly shooting and killing a man while trying to make an arrest.

Julian, then working as a fugitive apprehension agent for the Missouri Department of Corrections, learned around 7 p.m. Feb. 14 that 23-year-old Zachary C. Snyder was at an apartment complex on Themis Street.

Armed with a parole violation warrant for Snyder, who had a record for stealing a car and possession of controlled substances related to methamphetamine, Julian called the Cape Girardeau Police Department to request an officer as backup.

As that officer headed to the apartment, Julian arrived first and spotted Snyder in the parking lot, according to an interview Julian gave with a Cape Girardeau detective.

"I pulled my weapon out, walked around my car, identified myself," Julian told police during the interview.

He explained to Snyder that he had a warrant for his arrest and asked him to place his hands on the trunk of Julian's car.

Snyder obeyed the instructions, then as Julian stepped toward him, his service Glock 22 .44-caliber pistol still drawn, Snyder jumped up and lunged suddenly, Julian said in the interview.

"I thought he had either pulled something out of where his pants were or his shirt and was going to actually attack me and when he did that, then I discharged my firearm, striking him in the back right shoulder," Julian said.

Snyder did not have a gun.

He was transported to Saint Francis Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Julian told Cape Girardeau detectives that he didn't know whether Snyder had been armed or not.

At a Feb. 26 coroner's inquest, a jury found that Julian committed a felony when he shot Snyder because he had not been acting in self-defense or using lawful force in making the arrest.

The following day, Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle charged Julian with one count of involuntary manslaughter, alleging criminal negligence on Julian's part.

If convicted, Julian could face up to four years in prison or one year in the county jail.

At the inquest, Julian testified that he normally would have gone to his Taser instead of his gun, but he was unsure of the neighborhood and it was after dark, so he drew his gun to be prepared.

Snyder's sudden move was described by eyewitnesses as a turning motion, as if to bolt, but Julian testified that he perceived the lunge as an attack and couldn't tell if Snyder had a gun in his left hand.

"I was the only one there, and I really believed he was going to attack me," he said.

In his seven and a half years as an investigator with the Department of Corrections, Julian testified, he'd never been involved in a situation where he'd had to discharge his gun before.

Snyder's mother, Edith Snyder, testified that the only person Snyder had ever harmed was himself. She said he told her he wanted to see his child in St. Louis once more before returning to prison on the parole violation.

The trial begins at 9 a.m. at the Callaway County Courthouse. Swingle said it will likely last two days.

bdicosmo@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 245

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