A 12-person jury equally comprised of men and women deliberated for a little less than three hours on Friday before finding Journy Lee Snead guilty of first-degree murder in the death of his grandfather, Floyd Leslie Crider.
The jury recommended Snead serve 20 years in prison for the murder of Crider, which occurred at their home located on Sweeney Trail on July 19.
Jurors also convicted Snead of one count of child cruelty in connection with the incident and recommended a sentence of two years for that charge.
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 during the trial that Floyd Crider was struck at least six times in the head by perhaps a hammer, baseball bat or pipe.
Closing arguments Friday in Halifax County Circuit Court reflected evidence presented by the prosecution team of Halifax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Tracy Martin and Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Will Hamilton.
Snead’s defense team, including former Halifax County Commonwealth’s Attorney John Greenbacker and John Hall Greenbacker, viewed the evidence in a different light, including video testimony of Snead’s daughter, 3-years-old at the time of Floyd Crider’s death.
In closing arguments, John Greenbacker maintained Snead’s daughter was at the scene after Floyd Crider’s body was found lying on the floor of his living room.
Greenbacker pointed to the 911 call made by Snead after Crider’s body was discovered as key to the defense theory that Snead’s daughter was there, with a tape of the call including shrieks and crying in the background at least one witness identified as belonging to Snead’s daughter.
On the same 911 call played for the court on Thursday, Snead also was distraught, emotional and crying, while he was talking to the dispatcher that evening.
Greenbacker contends the emotion shown by Snead and his daughter during the 911 phone call that night would only be possible if they were seeing the body for the first time.
“If he [Snead] was acting, it was the best Academy Award performance you can imagine,” Greenbacker told the jury.
However, testimony from Snead’s daughter in a forensic examination several weeks ago indicates she was in the house at the time of her great-grandfather’s murder, not later after his body was discovered, as the defense contends.
Pointing to photos of Crider’s house and the one behind it belonging to his son, Steven, and his family, Greenbacker doubted, as several family members testified, that no one could enter Crider’s house without being seen.
That led to Greenbacker’s assertion that someone else was responsible for Floyd Crider’s murder, perhaps in a drug deal gone bad or in a murder-for-hire orchestrated by the victim’s wife, Gloria Jean Crider, herself the alleged victim of abuse from Floyd Crider.
Gloria Jean Crider, who was indicted March 7 by a Halifax County Circuit Court grand jury for felony solicitation of another person to commit the murder of her husband, pleaded the fifth when appearing in court on Thursday.
Snead himself, when asked point-blank by Greenbacker on the stand Thursday, insisted he did not kill his grandfather, despite evidence showing the murder victim as belligerent and abusive, someone who dealt drugs and was sometimes violent toward family members when drinking, to the point family members knew to stay away from him.
In fact, Snead was known as Floyd Crider’s “fair-haired boy,” someone Floyd Crider had raised as a son.
Prosecution evidence, including testimony from an inmate serving time with Snead indicating the defendant revealed details of the murder to a fellow inmate in an effort to frame someone else for the crime, also came under scrutiny from Greenbacker.
Greenbacker recalled he warned Snead not to say anything about the crime to anyone once incarcerated.
“Anyone in there would sell their grandmother to get out of jail,” Greenbacker recalled telling Snead.
Hamilton pointed to statements made during the forensic interview that proved Snead’s daughter saw her great-grandfather’s body lying on the floor in a pool of blood.
“Him melted and then he died…” was how Snead’s daughter described the murder scene when being interviewed.
“Do you know who made him dead…my daddy,” Snead’s daughter said during the forensic interview.
The prosecution did not agree with the defense’s assertion that the length of time between Crider’s murder and the forensic interview led to the child’s mixing several incidents together.
“She’s been through the wringer,” Greenbacker said on Friday.
Hamilton and Martin told the jury during closing arguments the clothes Snead was wearing, including the shoes he wore on video footage from Liberty Mini Mart when Snead and his grandfather were there together the day of the murder, have since disappeared and have not been found.
Investigators discovered no direct evidence linking Snead to the crime when they served a search warrant at Floyd Crider’s residence the week following the murder, with Martin telling the jury no one in their right mind would leave evidence lying around after committing an act such as murder.
Testimony of witnesses called by the prosecution in the sentencing phase of the trial indicated a family trying to come to grips with the death of Floyd Crider.
“I wake up and see the damage that was done to our family,” said Christine Crider. “Regardless of what Journy has done, we forgive him for what he’s done.”
“We forgive you Journy,” said Christine Crider looking directly at the defendant.
Snead’s daughter “at the end of the day her father loves her unconditionally,” added Christine Crider.
Candice Sease, sister of Floyd Crider, told the court she was full of emotions, including anger, shock, frustration and confusion, and that she was harboring both good and bad memories.
Snead became Floyd Crider’s “shining star and golden child,” said Sease. “Perhaps he gave him a little too much. The taking of his life was tragic and very brutal. It was unacceptable to me. I feel he deserves the maximum punishment.”
John Greenbacker told the court he would make a motion to overturn the jury’s verdict during formal sentencing for Snead, set for 9 a.m. Thursday, May 30, in Halifax County Circuit Court.