Clayton, MO – St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced on Friday, Dec. 8, that his office would not seek the death penalty for Trenton Forster in the murder of St. Louis County Police Officer Blake Snyder.
In a statement, McCulloch said that his decision came after “a complete examination and reexamination of all evidence in this case.”
He said that he was unable to provide further details due to ethical rules that prosecutors have.
McCulloch said that he had met with and discussed his decision with Officer Snyder’s family.
Officer Snyder’s widow, Elizabeth Snyder, confirmed the meeting and said she was outraged by the prosecutor’s decision.
She said, “What message is being sent to society, to law enforcement and criminals by not seeking the death penalty? It’s saying police officers’ lives are cheap and unimportant and don’t matter.”
She wouldn’t discuss what McCulloch said during their meeting, but said that her brother, St. Louis County Police Officer Justin Sparks, shared her sentiments, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Forster, 19, was charged with first-degree murder, first-degree assault on a law enforcement officer, and two counts of armed criminal action after the incident, which occurred on October 6, 2016.
Police said that Officer Snyder and his partner had responded to a disturbance call in the 10700 block of Arno Drive in Green Park. Forster fatally shot Officer Snyder, and his partner returned fire, shooting the suspect multiple times.
Elizabeth Snyder said on Friday that Forster “went on social media talking about how he wanted to kill cops, and that’s exactly what he did. And if his gun didn’t jam, he would have killed (Snyder’s) partner, too.” She said she didn’t know how she would explain this to her young son, Malachi.
She said, “That‘s gonna be fun to have to have to tell Malachi his daddy’s killer is in jail because Bob McCulloch didn’t give a jury the chance to decide. I understand death penalty cases are hard to prosecute. They take a long time but it doesn’t mean you don’t do it.”
In an email, Matt Crecelius, business manager of the St. Louis County Police Association, said that its members were “deeply disappointed” by McCulloch’s decision. He said he shared Elizabeth Snyder’s sentiments but trusted McCulloch’s decision, and would continue to support the Snyder family.
Forster, who was 18 when he murdered Officer Snyder, will now face life in prison without parole, a mandatory punishment after the death penalty is taken off the table. He remains jailed in St. Louis County under $1 million bond.
While McCulloch refused to prosecute Officer Snyder’s killer to the fullest extent of the law, the man who killed McClloch’s father was fully prosecuted.
McCulloch was 12-years-old when his father, St. Louis Police Officer Paul McCulloch, was murdered on July 2, 1964. Officer McCulloch was fatally shot in a gun battle with a kidnapper in the 2100 block of Dickson Street at the former Pruitt-Igoe public housing complex. The suspect, Eddie Glenn, was convicted and sentenced to death, but in 1972, the Missouri Supreme Court reduced his sentence to life in prison.
McCulloch is an eight-term prosecutor who is up for re-election in 2018.