MH woman convicted of allowing child abuse has appeal denied

Photo: Alyssia Kirby-Snow

The Arkansas Court of Appeals has turned down the post conviction relief sought by a Mountain Home woman convicted in a child abuse case

Thirty-four-year-old Alyssia Kirby-Snow was found guilty by a Baxter County Circuit Court jury in early February 2018 of permitting child abuse and endangering the welfare of a minor. The jury acquitted her of first-degree battery.

She was sentenced to 26 years in prison for her alleged involvement in actions that left her then 3-week-old son seriously injured.

Kirby-Snow was represented in her appeal by Little Rock attorney Charles Hancock.

Hancock asked the court of appeals to reverse and dismiss the verdicts against his client or, alternatively, to send the case back to Baxter County Circuit Court for a new trial.

The Little Rock lawyer says the trial court in Baxter County abused its discretion by denying Kirby-Snow’s motions for a directed verdict based on the insufficiency of the evidence against her.

Motions for directed verdicts are made at the close of the state’s case and after all of the evidence from both sides has been presented.

If the directed verdict for acquittal motion had been approved, the case would not have gone to the jury.

In denying the directed verdict motions during Kirby-Snow’s trial, Circuit Judge Gordon Webb said he felt sufficient evidence had been presented by the state to allow the case to go to a jury.

The Court of Appeals agreed. In its ruling made public Wednesday, the judges wrote “clearly there is substantial evidence to support the conviction for permitting child abuse.”

Kirby-Snow had given birth to other children prior to the child involved in the abuse case, “and it was reasonable for the jury to conclude she should have know the difference between normal and abnormal behavior” of the child.

Kirby-Snow and Jonathan Snow came up with a number of explanations to account for the extensive, severe injuries suffered by the baby, including being accidently hit with a seatbelt buckle.

Photo: Johnathan Snow

In another version, it was contended the baby hit himself inflicting all of the bruises, scrapes and scratches during what the couple described as “fits.”

Judge Webb wrote the explanations offered by the couple might explain why the baby had a single bruise, but didn’t “come close to explaining the extreme nature of the injuries” suffered by the Snow’s small son.

Alyssia Kirby-Snow and Jonathan Snow had indicated in interviews with investigators that they were the only two people who cared for the baby, whose name at the time was Alyas. He has since been adopted and his name changed.

Jonathan Snow was found guilty in mid-October of 2017 of first-degree battery and endangering the welfare of a minor and given 41 years in prison.

On appeal, his battery charge was thrown out, leaving the conviction for endangering the welfare of a minor standing.

The Arkansas Court of Appeals handed down the 4-to-2-decision in mid-December 2018.

In ruling on Jonathan Snow’s appeal, the majority of the Appeals Court judges said, based on evidence presented at trial, it appeared just as likely Alyssia Kirby-Snow – rather than Jonathan Snow – was responsible for injuries to the infant.

In a dissenting opinion, Judge Mike Murphy said the Appeals Court erred in its decision in that it appeared to “reweigh the evidence and assess the credibility of the witnesses” in the Jonathan Snow case, which is outside the standard for considering appeals.

The attorney representing Jonathan Snow during the appeal process, Gary Potts of Monticello, wrote that the alleged lack of evidence forced the jury to rely on speculation and conjecture in deciding his client committed the crimes for which he was eventually convicted.

The state countered that sufficient evidence had been presented at Jonathan Snow’s trial, making it unnecessary for the jurors to rely on guesswork to reach their decision.

The state asked the Appeals Court to reconsider its ruling, but the request was turned down. Lawyers from the Attorney General’s Office representing the state went to the Arkansas Supreme Court asking for a review of the case in an attempt to have Jonathan Snows’ more serous first-degree battery conviction upheld.

The state’s highest court refused the review request, leaving the decision of the Appeals Court to stand, resulting in Jonathan Snow only having six years to serve in prison rather than 41.

He is now out on parole, according to the Arkansas Department of Correction website.

The charges against the Snows resulted from an investigation launched in early 2016 after the Mountain Home Police Department received a report from Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) in Little Rock. In the report, ACH staff said it was believed the couple’s baby boy had suffered serious abuse.

Doctors testified at both Jonathan and Alyssia Kirby-Snow’s trials that the baby will have lifetime handicaps due to the extensive injuries he received.

At the time of the baby’s birth in late January 2016, the couple lived together in an apartment complex along Sate Highway 201 North. They were married in October 2016.

The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) went to court to strip both Alyssia Kirby-Snow and Jonathan Snow of parental rights.

A Baxter County Domestic Relations Court found in favor of DHS and ruled the baby had been neglected as the result of abuse or neglect that could endanger the life of the child.

Jonathan Snow appealed that decision but was turned down. Alyssia Kirby-Snow was not part of that appeal.

Alyssia Kirby-Snow is an inmate in the Wrightsville Women’s Facility of the Arkansas Department of Correction.

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