ANTIDEPRESSANTS: Court overturns conviction in 2005 child neglect case

When Schieck discussed the plea agreement, the court said he was aware that
Snyder “had a significant history of mental health problems, including a
previous institutionalization, antidepressant prescriptions and recent suicide
attempts.”

  • Saturday, January 30, 2010
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    Court overturns conviction in 2005 child

    neglect case

    By Cy Ryan

    Fri, Jan 15, 2010 (3:40 p.m.)

    CARSON CITY – In a 2-1 decision, the Nevada Supreme Court has voided the
    second-degree murder conviction of Charlene Snyder in a highly publicized child

    neglect case in Las Vegas.

    The court said trial lawyer David Schieck failed to request a psychiatric
    evaluation prior to advising her to plead guilty.

    Snyder’s 2-year-old daughter, Adacelli, had cerebral palsy and weighed only
    11 pounds at the time of her death in the summer of 2005. She was found dead
    inside the family’s mobile home in a room filled with animal and human feces and
    rotting food.

    When Schieck discussed the plea agreement, the court said he was aware that
    Snyder “had a significant history of mental health problems, including a
    previous institutionalization, antidepressant prescriptions and recent suicide
    attempts.”

    The court said the lawyer was aware “of the highly unusual behavior she
    exhibited in allowing her home to, in effect, become a cesspool.

    In light of trial counsel’s knowledge, he was unreasonable in failing to
    request a psychiatric evaluation prior to counseling appellant (Snyder) to plead
    guilty.”

    Schieck had testified he did not order the evaluation because he believed
    Snyder was competent. The court said, “the standard for competency is not the
    same as that for insanity, nor is it relevant to appellant’s state of mind when
    her daughter died.”

    The court said a psychiatric evaluation may have supported the only line of
    defense for Snyder of “insanity or that she lacked the requisite state of
    mind.”

    The majority decision was signed Justices Michael Cherry and Michael Douglas.
    Dissenting was Justice Mark Gibbons, who said Snyder had not met her burden to
    show her lawyer was incompetent.

    Snyder, now 32, will return to district court in Las Vegas for new
    proceedings.

    Both Snyder and her boyfriend Jack Richardson, now 29, were sentenced to
    terms of 10 years to life on the second-degree murder conviction.

    Discussion: 2 comments so far…

    1. By LasVegasLawyerGal
      1/15/10 at 4:57 p.m.

      Of course, the part not mentioned by the article is that in practice,
      requesting a psych eval for one’s client means a transfer of the matter to
      Judge Glass–who rarely, if ever, finds anyone incompetent. This is not to
      dispute that attorneys should request psych evals when it appears to them that
      mental competency is in issue–but it is a bit rich for our Supreme Court to
      posit that a psych eval would have magically changed the outcome.

    2. By Launce
      1/16/10 at 4:19 p.m.

      LVLG is correct, but nonetheless, the Court shows some intestinal fortitude
      in sending this back to District Court. The mob’s hunger for blood
      notwithstanding, this is a clear example of someone who could not, should not
      be responsible for the care of a disabled infant. The mob wants to punish
      Snyder for the community’s failure to look out for the most
      vulnerable.

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