The murder trial of Journy Lee Snead took another turn Wednesday, when presiding Judge Kimberley S. White ruled earlier statements made by Snead’s 4-year-old daughter were admissible, after additional prosecution evidence was entered on Wednesday.
Snead, a 32-year-old Sweeney Trail, Halifax resident, is on trial in Halifax County Circuit Court for first-degree murder in connection with the death of his grandfather, 75-year-old Floyd Leslie Crider.
Crider, also a Sweeney Trail resident, died in an apparent homicide that occurred on the evening of Thursday, July 19, at his residence.
White ruled Wednesday certain earlier statements made by Snead’s daughter were admissible pursuant to the provisions of Virginia Code section 19.2-268.3.
That code section states a statement of a child which is inherently trustworthy who testifies at trial can be considered factual evidence.
White also cited another section of Virginia Code in making her ruling, which allows the admission of prior inconsistent statements of any witness to come in under certain circumstances.
Snead’s daughter had appeared in court via a live video feed the first day of the trial, where she answered questions posed by Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Will Hamilton and defense attorney John Hall Greenbacker.
The prosecution, including Commonwealth’s Attorney Tracy Martin and Hamilton, hoped to use statements made by the now 4-year-old daughter of Snead during Monday’s interview to substantiate the murder charge against Snead.
Those hopes were dashed on Monday but revived on Wednesday, when White made her ruling after the court heard additional prosecution evidence, including a taped conversation on Feb. 27 between an incarcerated Snead and his grandmother, Gloria Jean Crider, who was indicted March 7 by a Halifax County Circuit Court grand jury for a felony charge of solicitation of another person to commit the murder of her husband, Floyd Crider.
In that conversation, Snead admitted his daughter was in Floyd Crider’s house after his body was discovered.
Crime scene photos presented at trial showed the victim lying in a pool of blood in the living room of his home.
Prosecution witness Lt. Martin Johnson, certified as a blood spatter expert, testified Tuesday that Floyd Crider was struck at least six times in the head by perhaps a hammer, baseball bat or pipe.
“It was a dynamic event and a violent attack,” Johnson said, adding the assailant would have “a significant amount of blood on him, particularly from the waist down.”
The jury comprised of seven men and seven women also heard testimony from Sheriff’s Deputy Joe Franco, whose body cam recorded a conversation between himself and Snead on Oct. 25 after a traffic stop, where the defendant had asked to speak to an investigator regarding his grandfather’s death.
Snead, in a rambling dialogue with Franco, said he “was trying to do what’s right,” and “I don’t know which way to go.”
Floyd Crider was a “mean, abusive and belligerent drunk,” Snead told Franco.
Christine Crider, Steven Leslie Crider and Steven Wayne Crider, all of whom lived in a house behind the victim’s on Sweeney Trail, testified Wednesday they were at home at the time of Floyd Crider’s murder, with all but Steven Leslie Crider, Floyd’s son, going inside the home before rescue and police arrived.
Further testimony revealed a family that didn’t always get along with one another.
Steven Leslie Crider, Floyd Crider’s grandson, testified his father came to his house two days before his death and asked to carry home a gun.
Crider recalled his father saying he feared for his life, while gesturing to the home occupied by Journy Snead and Gloria Jean Crider, along with himself.
Steven Leslie Crider also testified that Gloria Jean Crider, his mother, approached him the day before Floyd’s death and asked him if there was any way to get someone to fix a brake line on her husband’s vehicle to “have something happen to him.”
Crider also testified he said “no” to his mother’s request to buy a gun for her from a pawnshop.
Steven Leslie Crider told defense Attorney John Greenbacker that he would never lay his hands on his father, despite admitting that Floyd Crider could be a “very mean drunk.”
Steven Leslie Crider also admitted under cross examination that one confrontation between himself and his father ended with him picking up a shovel to defend himself, with that case ending up in court.
Christine Crider also testified to an incident that occurred in 2017, when she was called to a dumpster where Floyd Crider had used the door of a vehicle to pin down his wife.
Journy Snead, while holding his daughter, had kicked Floyd Crider in the chest, according to Christine Crider, with such force that the outline of his footprint was on his grandfather’s chest.
Greenbacker questioned statements provided by Johnny Owen Clay, currently an inmate with the Halifax Adult Detention Center, who testified Snead had approached him with details of Floyd Crider’s murder and asked him to help implicate another person in his grandfather’s death.
Clay denied he was getting any “consideration” for testifying on behalf of the commonwealth.
The jury was expected to hear remaining commonwealth’s evidence, followed by defense evidence on Thursday, with Journy Snead expected to testify.