OLYMPIA – A jury has acquitted a 21-year-old Olympia man of manslaughter in connection with his 4-month-old daughter’s death in May, which happened after he dropped her on her head while throwing her in the air and catching her.
It took a Thurston County jury a little more than a half an hour today to acquit Corey Snyder of first-degree manslaughter and an alternative charge of second-degree manslaughter in connection with the death of Kylie Marie Snyder.
Snyder’s attorney, Jeff Robinson of Seattle, said that the jury’s verdict was appropriate, given that there was “no evidence he had any clue he was putting his baby in danger of dying.” There also was no evidence presented at trial that the infant was ever the victim of child abuse, Robinson said.
“People throw babies in the air and catch them, and it’s out of love and joy,” he said, adding that the prosecution fell short of proving that Snyder’s actions created a substantial risk of killing the girl.
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The Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office did not charge Snyder until late August, about three months after the child’s death May 27 at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. The King County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled that the cause of death was homicide. The death was caused by a brain hemorrhage and blunt-force injuries, according to the medical examiner’s office.
According to court papers:
A doctor at Harborview told a detective that “he did not believe the injuries were consistent with what Corey Snyder had shared regarding the method of injury.”
Snyder told investigators with the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office that while he was home alone with his daughter, he was throwing her in the air and catching her when she fell and landed on her head and back. He said he tried to text and call the child’s mother, and “when she didn’t respond he called 911.”
As the girl remained on life support in critical condition at Harborview in the days before her death, a second doctor told a detective that “she believed the injury was caused by force much greater than the weight of the child and based on her findings believed the case is highly concerning for abusive injury.”
After the baby’s death, Snyder “was very despondent and volunteered he was ready to be held accountable for what happened,” court papers state.
After the jury’s verdict, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Carol LaVerne said, “we felt, under the circumstances, his behavior was reckless.” The acquittal cannot be appealed.
Snyder, who has no criminal history, did not testify during the three-day trial before Thurston County Superior Court Judge Paula Casey.
In Washington, a person is guilty of first-degree manslaughter when he or she “recklessly causes the death of another person.” The jury also acquitted Snyder of second-degree manslaughter, defined as a death caused by another’s “criminal negligence.”
Friends and family of Snyder broke into sobs and hugged one another after the jury read its verdict.
Snyder and his family still are grieving, Robinson said.
“Nobody’s celebrating here,” he said, adding that Snyder and his family are relieved “that they can now grieve without the criminal justice system hanging over their heads.”
Robinson said Snyder and the girl’s mother plan to marry in two weeks.
“They’ve been together the entire time,” he said.