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Hamilton County parents found guilty of abusing, killing 8-year-old son


John and Katherine Snyder were found guilty of murder, felonious assault and endangering children.

By: Andrew Rowan , Anna Azallion , Molly Schramm

CINCINNATI — John and Katherine Snyder have been found guilty of murdering their 8-year-old adopted son, Adam, in October 2016.

The couple faced a total of 26 charges. They were found guilty of murder, felonious assault and endangering children.

According to the prosecution, all of the Snyder children were malnourished, deprived of medical care and more.

Following closing arguments on Wednesday, the jury was charged with instructions. Deliberations began Thursday at 9:30 a.m. and continued through Friday evening.

The trial, which began on Oct. 15, was expected to last approximately two weeks but took three.

"This poor kid comes from China from an orphanage to this family and what do they do? They kill him," said prosecuting attorney Stacy Lefton at the start of the trial.

The defense said in closing arguments that Adam died due to medical and neuro-psychiatric issues, some of which they say were undiagnosed and covered up by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

It’s a claim the prosecution called “conspiracy theories” in court Wednesday.

The jury also considered testimony from Adam’s sibling. The 14-year-old girl was 7 at the time. She testified about the punishments her brother endured from Katherine and John.

In closing arguments Wednesday, defense attorney Jim Hardin spoke to her credibility.

“Children do lie in court,” he said. “Three or four years later, the story starts changing.”

Hamilton County Assistant Prosecutor Ernest Lee in his closing argument said that once children were removed from Katherine and John’s care, “they thrived.”

Prosecutors said in court that Katherine took Adam to the Cincinnati Children's on Oct. 4, 2016.

"He's described as skin and bones and gray in color," Lefton said. "They were concerned for his health."

Lefton said Katherine took Adam back home, promising to bring him back the next day. Adam was then pronounced dead in the hospital on Oct. 5, 2016.

The coroner ruled Adam's death as a homicide due to blunt force trauma to the back of his head.

The prosecution said leading up to Adam's death, the child had soiled himself on the morning of Oct. 5.

"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," Lefton said.

The prosecution said Katherine then slammed Adam on the ground before taking him to and laying him on the floor of John's office. John then checked on an unresponsive Adam before Katherine eventually called 911, the prosecution said.

Previously, the Snyders had sued the Hamilton County Coroner's Office saying they hired medical experts who determined Adam died from sepsis, but that case was dismissed.

Jeremy Evans, Katherine's defense attorney, also alleged that the prosecution didn't have enough evidence for seven years, and also none to validate the charges now.

The prosecution has previously said there's never been any doubt that the Snyders caused Adam's death, but the delay was to give their other adopted children time to mature.

2023 Nov 17