Father and son plead not guilty in
child custody case
By PAT MURPHY
Express Staff Writer
After entering not guilty pleas, a father
and son charged in a bizarre international child abduction case were returned to
their Blaine County jail cell Monday.
Stephen T. Snyder, 54, a former California
resident, and Eli Snyder, 30, formerly of Ketchum, will remain in custody
because they’re unable to make the $500,000 bonds placed on each of them.
Eli Snyder, center, formerly of
Ketchum, talks to his attorney Keith Roark during an arraignment Monday in 5th
District Court as his father, Stephen T. Snyder, 54, a former resident of
California, listens. The two Snyders have been indicted on two counts each of
child custody interference and aiding and abetting in connection with the
disappearance of Lily Snyder, now 5. The girl disappeared from Ketchum two years
ago. Express photo by Willy Cook
Both Snyders were indicted May 14 by a
Blaine County grand jury on two counts each of child custody interference and
aiding and abetting. If convicted, the Snyders each could be imprisoned for up
to 10 years.
Fifth District Court Judge James J. May
signed an authorization allowing defense attorneys—Brian Elkins representing
Stephen Snyder and Keith Roark representing Eli Snyder—to obtain transcripts of
the grand jury’s proceedings.
The next step for the Snyders is another
court appearance June 30, when defense attorneys will make motions. Since the
grand jury indictments preempt the need for a preliminary hearing, motions
customarily attack the charges or the grand jury indictment as being flawed.
The arraignment Monday was over in less
than 15 minutes.
After reading a long list of rights
provided the Snyders, May asked if they understood.
"Yes, your Honor," Eli Snyder said.
"I do, your Honor," Stephen Snyder said.
Their not guilty pleas then were entered.
Both were handcuffed and dressed in bright
orange cotton jail jump suits and slippers.
A date for a trial has not been set.
Lily, the daughter of Stephen Snyder and
his estranged wife, Margot Thornton, was rescued by an anonymous, independent
recovery team from the jungle in Costa Rica on April 11, where she’d been living
with her half-brother and father for nearly two years. Policed say she had been
abducted by Eli Snyder, a half-brother, in June 2001 following a planned visit
from Ketchum to another half-brother, Forrest Snyder, who then lived in Eugene,
Ore. He pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting a kidnapping, and had promised to
help locate Lily.
Thornton rushed to Costa Rica from her
Eugene, Ore., home to regain custody of Lily, while the recovery team turned the
Snyders over to Costa Rican police, who flew them to Miami and into the waiting
arms of U.S. authorities.
They were returned to Blaine County in
Lilly has returned with her mother to
Oregon, where Lily has two half-siblings, Isa, 12, and Lars, 8.
In a telephone interview from her home,
Thornton told The Mountain Express that Lily seemed unharmed and in fact had
acquired proficiency in Spanish as well as a self-reliance in rugged jungle