A Baxter County Circuit Court jury got it wrong in finding Jonathan Snow guilty of first-degree battery in a child abuse case, according to the attorney representing him.In October 2017, a jury found Snow guilty of both battery and endangering the welfare of a minor charges, stemming from serious injuries inflicted on his then three-week-old son.
In mid-December last year, the Arkansas Court of Appeals, in a 4-2 decision, threw out the battery conviction, but let stand Snows’ endangering the welfare of a minor conviction.
Snow’s attorney, Gary Potts of Monticello, filed a response Tuesday to the Arkansas Attorney General’s effort to reverse the appeals court’s decision to dismiss the conviction on the more serious battery charge.
Pott’s submission was “not timely received,” according to a notation on the electronic appeals court file. It will be up to the court to decide if it will consider the information in the response or proceed with the information the judges already have before them.
Snow was initially sentenced to 35 years on the battery charge and six years on the endangering conviction. The jury recommended, and the court accepted, the sentences for both crimes would run consecutively — meaning Snow faced 41 years in prison.
The attorney general’s office has filed petitions for rehearing and review in both the Arkansas Supreme Court and the court of appeals.
In his filing with both courts Tuesday, Potts wrote the jury in the Snow case “wrongfully based its decision on conjecture and speculation.”
At issue is whether prosecutors presented sufficient circumstantial evidence to allow the jury to reach the conclusions it did in the cases without guessing.
Potts contends the facts in the Snow case support the court of appeals finding that the state’s case rested on circumstantial evidence and conjecture, and the jury was incorrect in finding sufficient evidence had been presented during trial to allow the panel to convict.
In asking for the review and rehearing, lawyers in the attorney general’s office wrote the state had met its burden of proof in the Snow case.
The Baxter County jury did not have to base its decision on speculation and conjecture since prosecutors had presented a sufficient amount of evidence to prove the elements in the case, according to filings by the attorney general’s office.
The appeals court used reasoning in reaching its decision “which departs from the standards for appellant review of challenges to the sufficiency of evidence in a case,” the attorney general’s office contends.
Potts says the state had failed to exclude the “reasonable hypothesis” the mother of the infant, Alyssia Kirby-Snow, was actually the single guilty party.
In early February last year, a Baxter County Circuit Court jury found Kirby-Snow not guilty of first-degree battery, but guilty of permitting child abuse and endangering the welfare of a minor. She was sentenced to 26 years in prison and assessed a $13,000 fine. She has indicated she would join her husband and appeal her convictions, but court records show she has apparently not made much progress in that direction.
Charges against the couple resulted from an investigation launched in late February 2016 when Mountain Home police received a report from Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock that it was believed the couple’s baby son, Alyas Snow, had suffered serious abuse.
When the baby was born, the couple lived together in an apartment complex on State Highway 201 North. They were married in early October 2016. At the time of the marriage, Snow was 19-years-old and Kirby-Snow was 30-years-old.
During the investigation, Jonathan Snow and Alyssia Kirby-Snow said they were the only ones responsible for the care of the infant.
In its initial ruling throwing out the battery conviction, the appeals court wrote the fact they were the only ones to care for the infant, “does not indicate the guilt of one parent and not the other.”
In the initial appeal of his client’s convictions, Snow’s lawyer wrote there were no witnesses to any alleged criminal actions on Snow’s part and none of the state’s witnesses testifying at trial could say who actually caused the extensive injuries to the infant.
In his dissenting opinion, Judge Mike Murphy of the appeals court said the court was not in a position to “reweigh the evidence or assess the credibility of the witnesses.”
The judge said he believed the state had presented enough evidence at trial to allow the jury to reach its decision without relying on guesswork.
Snow is currently an inmate in the Delta Regional unit of the state prison system, and Kirby-Snow is in the Wrightsville Women’s Facility.
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