Convicted sexual predator Jeffrey Snyder has finally found a home -- a motel near downtown Fresno that is surrounded by a tall, chain-link fence topped with barbed wire and filled with other sex offenders and criminals.
At a hearing Monday, Superior Court Judge Gary Hoff ruled the El Muir Motel at 2339 S. G St. was suitable to house Snyder after the judge said he checked out the area and found few homes and an elementary school more than a mile away.
Hoff also noted that only 10 people wrote emails or letters of concern about placing Snyder in the motel. No one in court voiced opposition.
But Hoff warned the 62-year-old Snyder that if he violates any terms of his conditional release, he would be sent back to the Coalinga State Hospital, where he will be confined as a sexually violent predator.
Snyder informed the judge that he understood, but made no further comment.
Afterward, Snyder walked out of court with reporters in tow, but he declined to comment.
Snyder’s placement has been debated by law enforcement and the general public for more than a year. A proposed placement at a mobile home in Squaw Valley was met with fierce opposition by neighbors, and the property eventually burned down in January this year under suspicious circumstances.
Authorities also wanted to place Snyder in a two-story, five-bedroom, three-bath home in northwest Fresno. But once the address was made public in August 2016, neighbors protested and the owner of the La Paz Avenue home decided against renting to Snyder.
Hoff also received nearly 75 letters from northwest residents who told him that many children live in the neighborhood and they feared Snyder would offend again.
Court records say Snyder, who grew up in Fresno, began molesting boys, nearly 10 of them, starting in 1979. He has lived most of his life behind bars.
Since 2006, he had been confined in the Coalinga State Hospital with hundreds of other sexually violent predators who have finished their prison sentences but are deemed so dangerous that they must remain locked up.
Fresno defense lawyer Curtis Sok said Snyder earned his freedom in March 2016 during a court hearing when he acknowledged his wrongdoing, showed remorse for his victims and completed intense treatment programs.
In his ruling back then, Hoff said Snyder, who has been diagnosed with abnormal sexual desires, typically involving extreme or dangerous activities, was still is a sexually violent predator. But Hoff found Snyder could be released to a house, apartment or motel under strict conditions.
Liberty Healthcare has a contract with the California Department of State Hospitals to find homes for sexually violent predators. But securing a residence for Snyder has been difficult; of the more than 1,750 dwellings the state has looked at, none met the required criteria for placement of a sexually violent offender, forcing Hoff to agree in June to let Snyder to live in different motels until a permanent home could be found.
At Monday’s hearing, Hoff said he like the El Muir Motel because it is in an industrial area. The motel, which is about a mile south of the Fresno Rescue Mission and Poverello House, has 20 rooms. The closest school is Calwa Elementary School near Cedar and Jensen Avenues.
Hoff also said he received a favorable review of Snyder from doctors since his release from Coalinga State Hospital.
Timothy Fletcher, a regional supervisor for Liberty Healthcare, also told the judge that the El Muir Motel was a suitable placement because the owners have been working with parole and probation officials for more than 30 years. Fletcher said he visits Snyder two to four times a month, but stays in daily contact with him by telephone. He said Snyder will wear a GPS monitor at all times and will be escorted by a Liberty Healthcare driver every time he leaves the motel.
Snyder also is receiving counseling in San Luis Obispo once a week, Fletcher said.
Snyder will have annual review hearing, beginning in July next year.
After Monday’s hearing, prosecutor Rick Thomas said the District Attorney’s Office would prefer that Snyder stay in the state hospital. But he said the motel “is the best of a bad situation” since it deals with parolees and has a fence around it.