‘The Letter’ podcast: Plea deal spares death sentence for gunman

Family and friends of Zachary Snarr, including Zachary’s mother, Sy Snarr, left, holding a photo of Zachary, gather outside the courtroom where Jorge Benvenuto was being sentenced in Jan. 30, 1998.

Kristan Jacobsen, Deseret News

Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series highlighting a KSL podcast series titled “The Letter.” It explores the many aspects of grief, the realities of reclaiming lives shattered by violence and the possibilities of forgiveness stemming from a 1996 Utah murder that veteran police detectives said was unlike any other they had ever investigated.

Sy Snarr tried to focus on her husband’s face and what he was trying to tell her as she fought her way out of a sleepy haze.

“I had actually been up for so long,” Snarr said trying to recall the hours after her son was murdered in 1996. “They tell me I was standing there and all of a sudden, I just passed out on the floor. They had put me in bed, and then my husband came in and said, ‘They got him. They got him.’”

As the pain yanked her back into the reality of her son being shot by a stranger while on a date with a long-time friend, she realized what he was saying.

“I was, like, coming to,” she recalled, “and I’m like, ‘What?’ And then it hit me. … They got him!”

A short time later, prosecutor Bob Stott arrived at their Salt Lake home to meet with the family and try to answer some of their questions about the arrest of 19-year-old Jorge Benvenuto, who had confessed to shooting their son Zachary Snarr and Yvette Rodier, both 18.

“I just looked at him and said, ‘Kill him,’” she said. “I actually said that. Because I thought, ‘He deserves to die.’ I wanted him to die.”

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Snarr wasn’t alone.

Almost everyone involved felt like if there was ever a case that cried out for the death penalty, it was this one — the unprovoked, random attack of two teenagers who were just enjoying a summer night taking pictures of the moon at Little Dell Reservoir.

“It was just a very bad fact situation,” said prosecutor Roger Blaylock, who worked the case with Stott. “And by bad I don’t mean for a prosecutor. It’s a good situation (for prosecutors), because it’s so terrible. Here are two young people up at the reservoir, just kind of taking pictures of the moon and somebody comes up and shoots them both. … What is there about the defendant that is socially redeeming?”

Inevitable death sentence?

Benvenuto couldn’t afford his own attorney, so the case was assigned to the Salt Lake Legal Defender’s …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News

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