No new trial for Snelgrove
the Connecticut Supreme Court released a decision last week which upheld the 2005 murder conviction of a Berlin man.
Edwin F. "Ned" Snelgrove Jr., 48, who is incarcerated on a life sentence for the death of Carmen Rodriguez, had requested a new trial under the premise that he was convicted based on his past rather than the facts of the case, but the court ruled that Snelgrove had been given due process.
Snelgrove was convicted of felony murder in February 2005 after a "cold case" investigation through the Connecticut State Police found he had met with Rodriguez on the night of her disappearance and was the last to see her alive, but Snelgrove's attorney had argued that no physical proof of a murder was ever provided.
Court documents said Snelgrove was seen with Rodriguez, then 22, leaving Kenny's bar on Capitol Avenue in Hartford on Sept. 21, 2001. She wasn't seen again until her body was discovered in Hopkinton, Rhode Island, in January 2002.
Hopkinton police began investigating the murder after finding Rodriguez body hog-tied in 11 trash bags on Grassy Pond Road. The body was badly decomposed and was identified as Rodriguez only after police in Connecticut recognized the description of a tattoo released by Hopkinton detectives, according to reports from the Westerly Sun in Rhode Island.
Prosecutors showed evidence that in October 2001, within a month of the incident, Snelgrove attempted to commit suicide. Snelgrove, who was living with his parents at their Berlin home at the time, left a note indicating that he felt pressure from police who were investigating Rodriguez's disappearance.
During the trial, however, special Public Defender G. Douglas Nash argued that jurors were persuaded to convict Snelgrove when a judge allowed them to hear testimony about Snelgrove's past.
Snelgrove was convicted of manslaughter in the 1983 death of New Jersey resident Karen Osmun, who was his girlfriend at the time, and was also convicted of attempted murder for a 1987 case in which he stabbed a second woman. He was released in 1999 and moved back to Connecticut where his parents lived.
Jurors were also permitted to read copies of letters sent from his time in prison which showed that he idolized Ted Bundy, a serial killer who was convicted in 1989 of murdering of 30 women. The letters also included admissions by Snelgrove that he had a compulsion to render women defenseless and pose them in "sexually provocative positions", even if that meant killing them.
Nash argued that those records should not have been released, but the courts argued that it showed a specific history of violence toward victims like Rodriguez.
The decision released by the Supreme Court last week countered this point, stating that "evidence of his past crimes was admissible to establish the defendant's propensity to assault women to satisfy his sexual proclivities."
Prosecutors said these letters showed motive and argued that Snelgrove murdered Rodriguez to improve his methods and avoid mistakes made during his previous crimes. The prosecution also used Snelgrove's behavior during his 2005 trial as evidence of his violent behavior toward women.
Before he was sentenced to life in prison at New Britain Superior Court in 2005, he yelled at Judge Carmen Espinosa and said his past convictions were used "as a substitute for evidence," according to Associated Press reports.
"So go ahead and sentence me, and I'll see you in a couple of years when my conviction is overturned," he said.
The court decision will be published in the Connecticut Law Journal on Sept. 16.
Information from the Westerly Sun and AP was used in this article.