Woman seeks taxpayer aid for defense in slaying of 2 kids

READING, Pa. (AP) — A woman is seeking taxpayer funds to pay for her defense on murder charges in the deaths of two young children found hanging in an eastern Pennsylvania basement last fall.

Defense attorney Dennis Charles told a Berks County judge Monday that Lisa Snyder, 37, cannot afford her defense and filed a motion seeking funding for expert witnesses she will need at trial. The judge took the motion to declare her indigent under advisement.

Snyder is charged with first- and third-degree murder, child endangerment, and evidence-tampering in the September deaths of 4-year-old Brinley and 8-year-old Conner. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Charles has dismissed the case as amounting to only “speculation and guesswork.” Assistant District Attorney Margaret McCallum said Snyder was the only adult in the house when the children were found hanging in the basement of the Albany Township house. They died three days later.

Snyder has maintained that the children killed themselves. She had alleged the boy was bullied, but authorities said there was no evidence of that, and he showed no sign of distress on bus security video that day. An occupational therapist said the boy was not physically capable of harming himself or his sister in that way.

Prosecutors have argued that the case merits the death penalty if Snyder is convicted of first-degree murder, citing the fact that there were multiple fatalities and both were children.

At the hearing, Snyder's attorney said his client had less than $400 in the bank when she was taken into custody. Her only asset, he said, was a 2017 Ford Fusion that she acquired by trading in a jeep her grandfather gave her, The (Allentown) Morning Call reported.

Snyder’s parents want to sell the car to reimburse their retirement fund, which they used to get their daughter a lawyer. Prosecutors say proceeds from any sale of the vehicle, which they say is worth about $23,000, should be spent on her defense before public funds are used.