MASON CITY, Iowa – Jurors hear for the first time, a recorded interview of Cisneros and his reaction to hearing the accusations leveled against him.
Michael Cisneros is on trial for the 1994 murder of John Snyder Jr. of Mason City.
The interview being heard on Wednesday was recorded back in March 7, 2013.
Prior to the interview being played for the jury, Lt. Frank Stearns of the Mason City Police Department took the stand.
As a cold case investigator, it was his duty to review case files to determine new leads, or information that could help solve cases.
After being assigned to the Snyder Jr. case, Lt. Stearns reviewed the evidence and sent any containing possible DNA samples to the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation forensic lab.
He says by 2003, DNA evidence had proven to be a lot more reliable and more accessible than back in 1994.
He was notified that the tests came back with a positive match to one adult male, but that it did not match John Snyder Jr. or John Snyder Sr.
It would take until 2013, before a match was made through the Combined DNA Index System or CODIS database.
The database marked Michael Cisneros as the only match.
Investigators would locate Cisneros serving the final few weeks of a sentence at the Rockwell City Correctional Facility.
Lt. Stearns and DCI Special Agent Chris Callaway, made the trip to Rockwell City and interviewed Cisneros.
They began by reminding Cisneros that he could leave at any moment, but that they would appreciate it if he stayed for an interview.
Slowly, they tell Cisneros about the abduction and murder of John Snyder Jr., but kept Cisneros in the dark about the details of the murder.
“What case facts tell us is just who, what, when and where. What they don’t tell us, is the why,” said Callaway.
“At this point in time, he had not told you at anything about this case?” asked Cerro Gordo County Attorney, Carlyle Dalen.
“He said he does not know anything about this case,” said Callaway.
“Has he told you that repeated times?” asked Dalen
“Yes,” affirmed Callaway.
The line of questioning would soon shift gears to the DNA evidence, but a confused Cisneros interrupts to clarify.
“So, is my DNA affiliated?” asked Cisneros.
“Well, would there be any reason why your DNA would be found on the body of John Snyder Jr.?” asked Cisneros
“No, no. Is that what this is all about? No, no,” said Cisneros.
While denying having any connection to John Snyder Sr., or to the case, Cisneros could not explain why his blood DNA was found on the crime scene.
“Does he give you any explanation at any point in time as to why his DNA was on the scene of the crime?” asked Dalen
“No,” replied Callaway.
An irritated Cisneros says to investigators that if they were going to charge him with the crime, then to simply arrest him.
“Hopefully, it will prove that I don’t have involvement in this. I don’t remember what happened 20 years ago. I don’t know who John Snyder is. I don’t remember some little kid drowning in a river. I don’t remember any of that stuff,” said Cisneros.
According to investigators, this is the first time any mention of the child drowning had been brought up.
“Why does that stand out to you?” asked Dalen
“Those were case facts that were not provided to him,” replied Callaway.
“At any point, up to that point, did you tell him that little John may have drowned or was in the river?
“Neither one,” replied Callaway.
Cisneros made it clear he was through answering questions and said he planned to request an attorney shortly after the interview.
When asked for a buckle swab for a DNA sample, Cisneros denied.
Since DNA samples on file are not obtained through the proper chain of custody, a new DNA sample is required to verify the match.
It was only after a court order that they were able to obtain the DNA evidence from Cisneros, and once again, it was a match.
Meanwhile in California, where John Snyder Sr. currently resides, Lt. Frank Stearns alerted Snyder Sr. to a hit on the CODIS database.
According to Lt. Stearns, he says Snyder Sr. acted both “happy and nervous at the same time”.
Witness testimony will continue on Thursday at 9 a.m.