Woman should go to jail, judge says
July 2, 2009
A prosecutor wants a North Summit woman who gave birth to a drug-addicted baby locked up in jail.
"A substantial amount of jail time is warranted in this case," Summit County prosecutor Joy Natale said.
Shannon M. Snyder, 29, pleaded guilty to endangerment of a child, which is a third-degree felony. Snyder admitted she ingested methadone, cocaine and opiates while pregnant with a boy born Jan. 13, the authorities said.
The fetus was exposed to the drugs, Summit County Attorney David Brickey said, adding that Snyder should be incarcerated.
"It’s just simply amazing," said Brickey about the case.
At birth, the baby suffered withdrawal symptoms and was in respiratory distress, Brickey said.
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"This was not a one-time accidental use during this pregnancy," Natale said at a sentencing hearing June 29. "Ms. Snyder put this child’s life in serious jeopardy."
People guilty of third-degree felonies in Utah could serve up to five years in prison.
"Ms. Snyder subjected her child to dangerous, dangerous drugs," Natale said.
Snyder went to Wyoming to have the child to avoid prosecution, Natale said.
The baby was treated with morphine for its addiction, Natale explained.
"At this point, we don’t know what the damage is," she said.
Meanwhile, children Snyder had in the past were taken from her by the Utah Division of Child and Family Services.
"Her behavior in this case is certainly consistent with what we’ve seen previously," Natale told 3rd District Court Judge Bruce Lubeck.
Lubeck delayed sentencing Monday until after a hearing scheduled July 10, which Snyder said could determine whether she receives custody of the baby who was born addicted to drugs.
Snyder, who lost custody of the child, begged Lubeck not to send her to jail.
"The last time I was in jail, I couldn’t handle it," Snyder told the judge about eight days she was behind bars when she was arrested. "It was really difficult on me."
"Compared to what this little boy went through I’m not too interested in the difficult time you had for those eight days," Lubeck replied.
For several weeks the baby was hospitalized, according to Brickey.
But experts can only speculate about any long-term damage the child might have suffered from the drugs, defense attorney Scott Cunningham said.
"[Snyder] has an appropriate attitude," Cunningham said in court.
Snyder said on most days she spends time with her counselor.
"I’m doing everything so I can be a good mother," she told the judge. "I saw what [my child] went through. I went through it too."
Snyder was using drugs last year when she learned she was pregnant.
"When I found out I was pregnant, I didn’t have any way to get off of them," she said in court. "I didn’t know what to do."
While supervised she is allowed to visit her baby.
"I see my son every day and he is very healthy," Snyder said. "I am doing everything to be a good mother to him."
A recommendation in a pre-sentencing investigation report from Adult Probation and Parole was for Snyder to serve jail time, Brickey said.
A DCFS case worker has indicated that Snyder has not shown appropriate remorse for her crimes, Lubeck said.
"I just thought that there is no way that this should be without a jail sentence," Lubeck told Snyder. "I think for the offense, Ms. Snyder, you ought to do some jail time."
Another sentencing hearing for Snyder was scheduled July 20 at 1:30 p.m.