LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) -- A convicted child molester whose 1993 murder of a 10-year-old boy led to the creation of Indiana's sex offender registry was resentenced Monday to life in prison without parole.
Christopher M. Stevens, 37, was resentenced two months after Zachary Snider's parents reached a deal under which they agreed to stop seeking the death penalty against Stevens.
The Cloverdale man had previously admitted to strangling Zachary on July 15, 1993, in Putnam County. The case was moved to Tippecanoe County because of pretrial publicity.
Before Judge Thomas H. Busch sentenced Stevens, Zachary's older sister, Nicole Speer of Monrovia, spoke about the murder publicly for the first time in testimony before the court.
"We all want you to die," Speer, 28, told Stevens. "But if letting you rot in prison is the end of it, well, so be it. I could kill you with my bare hands, but it won't bring Zachary back."
Stevens had been sentenced to death in 1995 the Cloverdale boy's murder.
But a federal appeals court set aside his death penalty in 2007 and let the murder conviction stand after determining defense lawyers at the original trial had not presented adequate evidence of Stevens' mental illness.
Authorities said Stevens, who had a prior child molestation conviction, admitted he strangled Zachary because the boy had threatened to tell his parents Stevens had been molesting him.
Zachary's 1993 murder led the state Legislature the next year to pass Zachary's Law, which requires convicted sex offenders living in Indiana to register with local law-enforcement agencies.
Stevens, who had had been scheduled to stand trial again in February 2010 in Tippecanoe Superior Court, stood up and apologized to Zachary's family during the hearing.
"I know my words are hollow right now. I know my apology will not penetrate your anger," he said. "I had no right to interfere with Zachary's life. ... I hope my taking this plea will allow you some peace, whenever that will be."
Under Stevens' plea, he cannot appeal his sentence or seek post-conviction relief.
Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter said that while the new sentence was not what the prosecution had wanted, it allows Zachary's family to finally leave the courtroom.
"In my opinion there would've been no doubt a jury would have given the death penalty. The problem for us would've been another appeal, another 15 years starting and mom and dad just didn't want to go through with it," he said.