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Neighbor testifies against couple accused of killing 8-year-old son during Day 2 of trial

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By Ken Brown and Mike Schell

CINCINNATI (WXIX) - A neighbor of John and Katherine Snyder testified she once found their son Adam inside their home with a broken arm.

Lynn Hortemiller, who lived across the street from the Snyders, was a witness for the prosecution during the second day of the trial on Monday in Hamilton County court. The Snyders are accused of murdering their 8-year-old son in 2016 and facing multiple charges including four counts of aggravated murder.

Hortemiller said she was close with the couple until she found Adam Snyder with a broken arm.

The prosecutors are building their case around the repeated discipline the Snyders allegedly imposed on their children. After Adam Snyder’s death, they said their other five children were discovered in their home malnourished and showed signs of physical abuse.

Hortemiller testified the Snyders used duct tape on Adam. The Snyders said it was to keep his diaper on and to keep him from soiling himself and smearing it.

The defense asked Hortemiller if she had ever asked the couple why they used the duct tape, and she said she didn’t.

One of the Snyder’s children - who is still a minor - also testified. They were asked by the prosecution if they were afraid of the Snyders. The child said yes.

Prosecutors allege Katherine Snyder slammed Adam’s head after he soiled himself, killing him in October 2016.

The couple - both 51, face four counts of aggravated murder, four counts of murder, four counts of felonious assault and 14 counts of endangering children.

Adam was one of five children with learning disabilities the couple adopted from China, court documents show.

“On the surface, you think this looks like a really great situation,” Assistant Prosecutor Stacy Lefton said Friday during opening statements. “Here’s these two people; they already have three children of their own, and they’re willing to open up their home and their hearts to take in these children from another country in an orphanage.”

The prosecutor said about seven months later, in October 2016, Katherine rushed Adam to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead due to a blunt force traumatic impact to his head.

Lefton claimed on the morning of Adam’s death, Katherine punished him for defecating in his pants.

“And the routine punishment in the Snyder home for soiling yourself was to place these children in cold showers and baths and smear feces on them,” the prosecutor told the court. ”And not only did that happen, but they, Katherine, picked him up and slammed him on the ground and caused this subdural hemorrhage to the back of his head.”

The Snyders’ attorney, Jeremy Evans, argued that Adam died of natural causes.

Evans said Adam’s injury was a result of his behavior.

“He became more aggressive with others, hitting and tripping them,” Evans said. “He became more aggressive with his self-harming behavior, banging his head, bruising his body creating pressure sores, picking at his wound.”

The defense said Katherine did not injure her son.

“The evidence will show that on Oct. 4, this came to a head when Kate woke up and found Adam covered in feces,” the defense attorney explained. “She placed him in a bathtub and going for a few seconds to get soap, came back and found him face down in the water.”

Lefton said the Snyders didn’t immediately take Adam to the hospital after the bathtub incident.

“This poor kid comes from China, from an orphanage to this family, and what do they do? They kill him,” Lefton said.

Hamilton County court records say the abuse happened when the Snyders lived on Conrad Drive in Springfield Township, but they were living in New York at the time of their arrest.

The Snyders’ other five children were found severely malnourished and had signs of physical abuse, according to the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office.

Those surviving children were the ones who gave the authorities the information leading to their indictments in October, the prosecutor’s office said.

Now that the kids are older and safe, the prosecutor’s office said they were able to disclose details of what happened in Springfield Township years ago.

2023 Oct 16