Trial underway for former Neches ISD principal facing criminal charges
PALESTINE, Texas (KLTV) - The trial for a former Neches ISD principal facing criminal charges began Tuesday.
Jury selection took place in Judge Deborah Evans courtroom Tuesday morning for the trial of Kimberlyn Ann Snider. Snider faces charges of official oppression and tampering with evidence related to a sexual assault investigation. Her trial had previously been scheduled to take place in August of this year, but was postponed due to one of the necessary parties in the trial having COVID-19.
Before that, a trial took place in March, but ended with a mistrial after the defense attorney suffered a medical emergency.
Snider is a Neches ISD administrator and former elementary school principal.
The jury consists of 12 jurors, nine men and three women plus one alternate juror. It took until about 1 p.m. to get the jury selected.
Snider’s trial began at 2:45 p.m. when the prosecution will start opening statements.
At 2:58 p.m., the state begins, and says Snider called students out of classes. Five students went to a room in the high school, while she’s the elementary school principal. They were made to write statements they didn’t want to write to use as evidence for trial.
Defense attorney says Kim Snyder didn’t fabricate evidence. Says she received a call on office phone from a man who told her kids on Neches High School volleyball team were gossiping about a girl at another school being sexually assaulted. Snider went to high school to find out what was going on. Trent Cook, the high school principal was off campus, so Snider went over to find out what was going on, saying this didn’t need to be discussed in class. Snider called Neches ISD attorney to ask how to handle the situation. Said the five girls told Snider what they were talking about. Girls asked Snider what to write and supposedly she told them to write what they heard or knew. Word got out to Anderson County Sheriff’s Office and they showed up to school to get statements from Snider, and defense attorney says she gave them the statement. Attorney says she didn’t know investigation was in progress when she asked them to write statements. Defense says evidence will show she didn’t commit official oppression.
At 3:12, the state calls its first witness.
State calls Tabitha Frawner, an investigator who works for the district attorney’s office, and has been doing this in Texas since 2017. She gave her background. She had another case of an alleged sexual assault that during initial investigation, wasn’t happening at Neches ISD, nor were the two parties involved from Neches ISD. Neches ISD got involved and was notified by chief deputy that former principal Snider was advised that females on varsity volleyball team were talking about the case. Frawner says their discussions could be potential leads to the active case. She went to elementary school to meet with Snider and ask about statements in her office. Frawner says her body cam was on for the conversation.
At 3:21 the State admits bodycam footage to evidence, and plays the footage for the jury.
Investigators talk to Snider in her office. Snider says girls were having conversations in the library, says they were fixing to get the volleyball team involved and Snider didn’t want them to be in the video. Snider says “write what you were saying.” Most statements were similar, one was different and Snider talked with girl who wrote that. Investigators asked for statements, Snider asked if she could attach her own to them about why she asked for them. They let her and said she could fill out an additional statement sheet. Statements dated 9/25/20. Four girls shared what one girl told them, then Snider had a girl come in separate to tell her side of it.
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