SHOWS + PODCASTS

“The Letter” – A Utah family weighs the death penalty

Sep 21, 2022, 11:00 AM
death Benvenuto The Letter Yvette Rodier Zach Snarr...
FILE: Yvette Rodier speaks to the court on Jan. 30, 1998, during a sentencing hearing for the man who shot her and shot and killed Zachary Snarr. (Kristan Jacobsen/ Deseret News)
(Kristan Jacobsen/ Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — It was the way the medical examiner described how bullets from a stranger’s gun ended her son’s life that sent Sy Snarr into a tailspin.

“The day the medical examiner testified I think was the worst day of my life,” she said. “Because she did show a drawing of Zach and talked about where he shot him and … after he’d shot him twice, he actually held the gun point blank to his head.

“And I had not known that. And that really affected me. It did,” Sy said. “And I had driven myself down there and I literally had to pull over; I could not drive home because I was wailing, sobbing. It really – it just killed me that that had happened to that beautiful boy of mine, you know that his life ended that way. It was hard.”

A change of heart and mind

Sy Snarr and her family had hoped the man accused of killing Zachary Snarr and gravely wounding his friend, Yvette Rodier, would receive the toughest punishment available – the death penalty. But as the months wore on, little things began to indicate Sy Snarr may not have the emotional stamina to endure a trial that detailed her son’s killing.

FILE: Zach Snarr's brothers, (l to r) Levi, 17  and Trent, 23 wait outside courtroom for the sentencing of Benvenuto.  (Kristan Jacobsen) FILE: Outside a courtroom, mother to Zach Snarr,  Sy Snarr hold large picture of Zach. (Kristan Jacabsen)

One night, she was watching the news and a reporter began talking about a killing at a video store.

“They were showing drawings of this person’s body showing where she had been stabbed over and over,” she said of the news report. “And I thought, I cannot watch this on TV about Zach, I can’t do it.”

There was an option that prosecutors began discussing with both the Snarr and Rodier families. A 1992 law was passed and now offered judges and juries a third option for a capital murder case. In addition to the death penalty and five years to life sentences, prosecutors now could offer life in prison without the possibility of parole.

After a tour of the Utah State Prison, the Snars saw this as the most ‘just’ option.

“My older brother Trent said that it gave him nightmares,” said Sydney Snarr Davis, who didn’t go on the tour with her family but discussed it with them.

“It was so awful, and I remember him telling me that I think I would rather die than live the rest of my life in that hellhole. And, at that point, I was like, ‘Well then, good. Do it.’ You know, let’s forget about him. He can go in there and rot.’”

Davis is referring to Jorge Benvenuto, who shot and killed her brother Zachary Snarr on Aug 28, 1996, at Little Dell Reservoir.

Justice meant anything that keep the killer away

Rodier was a newlywed and attending college. She didn’t think the punishment for Benvenuto was her decision to make, although she said her family favored the death penalty.

“I don’t recall thinking about it at that time,” Rodier said. “I definitely knew I was afraid of him. And so if there was something that would keep him away from me, I was all for it. But I – I don’t think I ever wished death upon him.”

Both families hoped a plea agreement would mean the end of their nightmare, but they were wrong. It would persist, on many fronts, for much longer than anyone expected.

Listen to Episode 4: A Death Penalty Waiting to Happen, below or at the KSL Podcasts webpage.

 

Related reading:

Also from KSL Podcasts: 

 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

Shows + Podcasts

Utah 2022 legislative session...
Mark Jones

Bill would require buildings to post signs for events meant for adults

One Utah lawmaker is proposing a bill that would require signs be posted on public buildings that will be hosting events meant for adults.
2 days ago
Multiple dollar bills are pictured, social security will see a bump...
Mark Jones

Eyeing retirement: How much money is enough after you leave a job?

How do you know when it's time to leave a job or if you'll have enough for retirement? Dave and Dujanovic talk to a financial planner about this important question.
2 days ago
interest rate...
Curt Gresseth

Interest rate ticks up. Time to tame your debt.

The chief financial analyst for Bankrate.com joins the show to talk about the rising interest rate and how you can get out from under the debt you have accumulated.
2 days ago
A herd of elk ended up on the roadways near I-80 and Foothill Boulevard on Thursday, Jan 26, 2023. ...
Mark Jones

Four elk killed as herd gets too close to I-215 and I-80

Four elk were killed Wednesday after a herd of elk got too close to I-215 and I-80. Two of the elk were struck and killed by vehicles. The other two had to be euthanized after being hit.
3 days ago
FILE - House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of Calif., pauses during a break in the taping of an interview ...
Mark Jones

Cracks are showing in the coalition of the GOP, according to polling numbers

Recent polling from Schoen Cooperman Research says there may be cracks in the GOP.
3 days ago
One of the topics being discussed during the 2023 Utah Legislative Session is how to combat the tea...
Mark Jones

Bill would allow individuals to become teachers without a bachelor’s degree

A bill being discussed on in the legislative session would allow for individuals to become teachers without obtaining a bachelor's degree.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
“The Letter” – A Utah family weighs the death penalty