State wants decision in child abuse case reviewed

The state has asked for a rehearing and review of the recent decision by the Arkansas Court of Appeals throwing out the conviction of a Mountain Home man for first-degree battery stemming from injuries to his then three-week-old son. A conviction on a charge of endangering the welfare of a minor was allowed to stand by the court in a 4-2 decision.

The rehearing and review petitions were filed Monday in both the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals by the State Attorney General's Office.

During his trial in October 2017, a Baxter County Circuit Court jury found Jonathan Snow guilty on the battery and endangering charges and recommended he be given 35 years in prison on the battery charge and six on endangering the welfare of a minor. The jury recommended the sentences run consecutively, meaning Snow was facing a total of 41 years in prison.

In filing the original appeal, Snow's attorney, Gary Potts, contended his client's conviction rested solely on an inadequate amount of circumstantial evidence. Potts wrote the jury in Snow's case was forced to rely on speculation and conjecture to conclude Snow committed the crimes, and the state failed to exclude the reasonable hypothesis that the mother of the child, Alyssia Kirby-Snow, was actually the single guilty party.

In early February, a jury found the mother not guilty of first-degree battery and guilty of permitting child abuse, and endangering the welfare of a minor and sentenced her to 26 years in prison and assessed a fine of $13,000.

Charges against the couple resulted from an investigation launched in late February 2016 when the Mountain Home Police Department received a report from the Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock that it was believed the small infant belonging to the couple had suffered serious abuse.

Jonathan Snow and Alyssia Kirby-Snow told investigators they were the only ones responsible for the care of the baby. At the time of the infant's birth, Jonathan Snow and Alyssia Kirby were living together in an apartment complex along State Highway 201 North. They were married in early October 2016. At the time of the marriage, Alyssia Kirby-Snow was 30-years-old and Jonathan Snow was 19-years-old.

In its initial ruling, the appeals court wrote simply because Jonathan Snow and Alyssia Kirby-Snow were the only ones to care for their infant "does not indicate the guilt of one parent and not the other." During Johnathan Snow's trial in Baxter County Circuit Court, his then attorney, Andrew Bailey, pointed the finger at Alyssia Kirby-Snow as the more likely candidate for inflicting the baby's injuries.

Two of the appeals courts judges dissented from the recent majority decision.

Among the arguments used by the Attorney General's Office in asking for the rehearing and review from the higher courts was the fact the Court of Appeals reasoning resulting in the battery case being thrown out, departs from the standards for appellant review of challenges to the sufficiency of evidence in a case.

The Attorney's General's Office contends in its petitions for review and rehearing that "on appeal, the question is whether the proof -- direct or circumstantial -- is substantial enough to support the elements of a crime beyond speculation and conjecture."

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