Convicted sexual predator Jeffrey Snyder will be released from Coalinga State Hospital in six weeks and live in a motel in Fresno County under strict monitoring conditions, a judge ruled Thursday in Fresno County Superior Court.
Judge Gary Hoff said he reluctantly signed an order for Jeffrey Snyder’s release to a motel because authorities could not find a home for him.
A year ago, northwest Fresno residents strongly protested the placement of Snyder in their neighborhood because he would be too close to a school and a park. Earlier this year, a potential home for Snyder in rural Squaw Valley was destroyed by fire.
For Snyder’s safety, the motel’s location was not revealed. Snyder also will be moved to a different motel every four days. In addition, he will wear a GPS device and be monitored by three retired law enforcement officers.
It’s not the best situation.
Fresno prosecutor Richard Thomas
Hoff signed the order after saying Snyder, 61, earned his release and authorities were unable to find him a home after looking at nearly 1,750 potential sites in Fresno County. By law, because Snyder was convicted in Fresno County, he has to be housed here.
Snyder did not attend the hearing. Afterward, prosecutor Richard Thomas said “it’s not the best situation,” but it gives authorities more time to find a permanent home for Snyder. If a permanent home is found, neighbors will be notified and a public hearing will be held to determine if the home is suitable for Snyder and the community, Hoff said.
Defense attorney Curtis Sok said: “Snyder understands the community’s concerns and understands his past. But he hopes the community one day will accept him. He wants to prove he can be a constructive member.”
Court records say Snyder began molesting boys in Fresno, nearly 10 of them, starting in 1979, causing him to live most of his life behind bars.
After his prison sentence ran out, prosecutors obtained a court order to confine him in Coalinga State Hospital, a locked facility for sexually violent predators, after arguing that his mental disorder made him likely to re-offend and, therefore, a danger to the community.
Snyder has been confined at Coalinga State Hospital since 2006, court records say.
Snyder understands the community’s concerns and understands his past.
Defense lawyer Curtis Sok
In March last year, Snyder earned his freedom during a court hearing when he acknowledged his wrongdoing, showed remorse for his victims and completed intense treatment programs, Sok said. In his ruling back then, Hoff said Snyder, who has been diagnosed with abnormal sexual desires, typically involving extreme or dangerous activities, still is a sexually violent predator. But Hoff found Snyder could be released to a home under strict conditions.
Liberty Healthcare has a contract with the California Department of State Hospitals to find homes for sexually violent predators. But finding a home for Snyder has been difficult. In August last year, dozens of residents protested the potential placement of Snyder in a five-bedroom, two-story home on La Paz Avenue in northwest Fresno. In January, a potential home for Snyder in Squaw Valley burned.
At Thursday’s hearing, Hoff said Snyder has signed a 16-page document that lists conditions of his release, which include notifying law enforcement every 30 days of his residency as a registered sex offender. Liberty Healthcare representative Timothy Fletcher also assured Hoff that staff will monitor Snyder 24-hours a day and will drive him to medical and counseling appointments, court-ordered programs and the store.
Snyder began molesting boys in Fresno, nearly 10 of them, starting in 1979, court records say.
The motels picked for sexually violent predators already have parolees and people on probation, Fletcher said. The motel’s owner, manager and staff will be notified of Snyder’s background; it will be up to them to notify motel occupants, he told the judge.
Snyder will be confined to his room from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. daily, Fletcher said. Initially, during the day he will be escorted outside his room, restricted where he goes, and kept away from parks and schools, he said. But over time, Snyder could earn more freedom, Fletcher said.
In making his ruling, Hoff said he wanted to assure the public that if Snyder violates any condition of his release, “he will be arrested, detained and sent back to Coalinga State Hospital.”