LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - The case that led to the creation of a statewide sex offenderregistry was back in a Tippecanoe County courtroom today.
A federal appeals court overturned the death penalty sentence ofChristopher Stevens.
Christopher Stevens has been on death row since a TippecanoeCounty jury convicted him of the rape and murder of 10-year-oldZachary Snider.
Today a judge took steps to ensure Stevens will stay behindbars.
The 1993 case was moved to Tippecanoe County because ofpre-trial publicity.
A federal appeal court overturned the death penalty ruling.
The court said the defense did not provide adequate evidenceabout Stevens' mental illness.
Today Stevens appeared before Judge Thomas H. Busch whereStevens was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Zachary Snider's sister Nicole Speer made a statement to Stevensand the court saying Stevens destroyed her family.
"I'm just glad it's finally done and over with," said Speer."It's been 16 years and we've been dealing with it every day. Thenew sentence is finally an end."
Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalkter said that while the newsentence wasn't what the prosecution wanted, it allows ZacharySnider's family to leave the courtroom.
"When Zach was going to tell on him, he murdered him not oncebut three times. He first tried to strangle him with a pillow. Thatdidn't work. He put a Sega Genisus cord around his neck and whenthat didn't work, he finally bagged his head. There's no doubt inmy mind he knew what he was doing. He was afraid he was going toget caught and go back to prison. In my opinion there would've beenno doubt a jury would have given the death penalty. The problem forus would've been another appeal, another 15 years starting and momand dad just didn't want to go through with it. I'm mean there wasno closure to this deal," said Bookwalter.
Steven apologized to Zachary's family during the hearing. Hesaid, "I know my words are hollow right now. I know my apology willnot penetrate your anger. I had no right to interfere withZachary's life...I hope this allows you to have some sort ofpeace."
"The only thing he had right about the apology was that it washollow. And I thought it was hollow and I didn't think anything ofit. I didn't even look at him through the apology. Didn't meananything to me," Speer said.
Speer holds on to the memories she has of her youngerbrother.
"He was awesome. He was my best friend. So I'll just alwaysremember him with a big smile on his face," Speer said.
This case gained statewide attention and eventually led to thecreation of Zachary's Law.
It requires convicted sex offenders to register with localpolice within a week of moving into a neighborhood.
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