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'Zachary's Law' killer gets life without parole

Monday, November 23, 2009

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.

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This is not justice. Stevens should swing from the Gallows. Thank you, Liberal Courts, for depriving this family and community the true justice deserved here. God save America.

-- Posted by reddevil on Tue, Nov 24, 2009, at 1:51 AM

I am puzzled by the comments. I don't see any defending of the crime here. It sounds from the article like the parents wanted an end to this so they could go on with their lives and not have to be involved with the courts for an undetermined time for years to come. This looks like it was done FOR the surviving victims. Now he cannot appeal and they do not have to sit in court and relive it over and over. Time for the family of the victim to start to have closure and heal. For them maybe more important that the revenge of public opinion that people not involved personally seem to be seeking or "fame" that a prosecutor might achieve getting a death penalty conviction again during appeal process. It will also prevent us the tax payer from having to pay for more of this process as it has been proven MANY times that appeals of death penalty convictions are far more costly than caring for the convicted criminal for life.

There is also another point here I feel I must make. No matter how heinous the crime, and the molestation and murder of a child right up there at the top, the U.S. still many times seems ok with killing people legally. We are one of the few western countries who still do this. Maybe I would think differently if one of my family members was the victim but victims alone don't make the laws. Locking criminals up and throwing away the key. giving them sentences of hard labor, and solitary confinement I am ok with, but where does the thou shalt not kill get vetoed when a person is evil? I don't remember seeing that anywhere in the Ten Commandments that so many are stuck on having in public places connected with government buildings. Can't have it both ways. If we truly want to put God's name in a prominent place on our government buildings we will have to change the death penalty ruling as well.

We either continue to separate church and state or we truly have to have a government that follows the teaching of the death penalty...Which religion will we chose and will all of us be made to follow it? Does Judaism still tout the eye for an eye motto? How about Islam? They still behead people. Will US citizens all have to follow rules of those faiths??

Think about it? Do the "liberals" as you call them really want anarchy or are they standing up for your choices as well? Connecting our government to one religion may change it in ways in which you are not prepared.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Tue, Nov 24, 2009, at 7:56 AM

Just Figures and then we get the usual defense for it all from Moore.

-- Posted by Ombudsman on Tue, Nov 24, 2009, at 8:17 AM

Death was / is the only answer in this case

-- Posted by Sand mann on Tue, Nov 24, 2009, at 10:17 AM

Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter what a cop out! one of the problems in the courts.

-- Posted by Sand mann on Tue, Nov 24, 2009, at 10:20 AM

This Country was founded on Judeo/ Christian values. Not to literally take seperation of church and state tongue in cheek,but the balance requires ethics and morals that this countries leaders are sorely lacking so again I pray, God save America.

-- Posted by reddevil on Tue, Nov 24, 2009, at 11:08 AM

Trust me, I am not a left winger by any stretch, and I too think meting out death sentences is barbaric. At one time early in the history of this nation the reasons for prison sentences was twofold: punishment for breaking the law and rehabilitation. The rehab part has all but been forgotten. Life in prison is a long, long, long time.

-- Posted by RDK on Tue, Nov 24, 2009, at 3:47 PM

I am just happy this family can finally move on and not have to see the face of their little boys killer. I remember this case like it were yesterday, my parents lived near there, and I was pregnant at the time with my first child, and this had me scared, this might not seem like the justice the parents and little Zachary deserves, but atleast he will rot behind bars, and the other offenders will probably torture him for his crime, so he will get his, it just might take a while. RIP Zachary Snider

-- Posted by proud mom and soldier on Tue, Nov 24, 2009, at 8:17 PM

RDK, you are exactly right on one point, life in prison is a long, long time for us to have support a child rapist and murderer.

-- Posted by Ombudsman on Wed, Nov 25, 2009, at 9:21 AM

You keep saying liberal Federal Judges ie: Democrats .. problem is they are conservative ... only 1 Federal Court in the US is a majority Democrat appointees .. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ... all the rest are Republican appointees as the majority (go to DOJ Website) ... look it up .. in fact the US Supreme Court is 7 Republicans 2 Democrats ... so your conservative Judges are the ones that let these felons go

-- Posted by inoregon on Wed, Nov 25, 2009, at 4:46 PM

In fact the 7th Federal Circuit Court of Appeals (which has jurisdiction over Indiana) is 7 Republican Appointees and 4 Democrat ... conservative judges released this guy

-- Posted by inoregon on Wed, Nov 25, 2009, at 4:55 PM

I think he got a good sentence. Life in prison to think each and everyday about what he did to that poor little boy till the day he dies! Not to mention all the torture he will more than likely endore from other inmates. I am not against the death sentence but it just seems to be the easiest way out for this murderer and he should have to suffer!

-- Posted by tabbie0658 on Sat, Nov 28, 2009, at 2:33 AM

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