Witnesses testify to Snyder Sr.’s character


MASON CITY, Iowa – A former girlfriend describes John Snyder Sr. as a parent avoiding responsibilities in witness testimony.

It did not take long for Brenda Larsen of Osage to get an impression of John Snyder Sr. back in 1994. Today she is testifying to Snyder Sr.’s character as an “aggressive” parent.

Michael Cisneros is on trial for the 1994 murder of John Snyder Junior, although the focus continues to be on Snyder Sr.

“He would get very mad, and I wasn’t used to it at the time. That’s why we didn’t last very long,” said Larsen.

Each question by the defense painted a picture of a parent looking to avoid the responsibilities of a caretaker.

According to Larsen, no one was getting in the way of what Snyder Sr. wanted, including little John.

“He would act like little John was more of a hassle for him. Like he couldn’t just go do what he wanted to, when he wanted to,” said Larsen.

In the more than two hours Larsen was on the stand, not once was Michael Cisneros discussed.

With Larsen’s testimony, the defense believe they can create enough reasonable doubt to prove that Synder Sr., and not Cisneros is to blame.

“It was always someone else’s fault. Everybody else is to blame, except for him,” said Larsen.

Attorneys would later discuss if any questions regarding Snyder Sr.’s past history of violence around the Mason City community would be heard by the jury.

Judge Dedra Schroeder allowed the defense to explore the various assault cases involving John Snyder Sr. and others during this time frame.

According to Larsen, Snyder Sr.’s temper and controlling behavior led to her concern for little John.

On several occasions, she says, little John would stay with her and her two young boys.

“He would just drop him off at my apartment, and just have him stay for a long time,” said Larsen.

“What do you mean long time?” asked Defense Attorney, Steve Kloberdanz.

“Sometimes days,” replied Larsen.

Larsen says at one point, Snyder Sr. even asked her to take little John and adopt him.

Larsen would deny the request since having two kids of her own, but says that it was that point where her concern would grow for Snyder Jr.’s well-being.

Others who took the stand include former Mason City Police Officer, Jay Lee who pulled little John out of the Willow Creek.

When asked to describe that day, Lee says it’s a moment that still bothers him to this day.

After approaching Snyder Sr., Lee tells a story contrary to other testimony heard concerning Snyder Sr.’s reaction on July 20.

He describes Snyder Sr. as being very distraught and emotional.

Others who’ve taken the stand on behalf of the defense have described Snyder Sr. as being “calm” and “under-emotional” after little John’s disappearance.

Witness testimony will continue into Monday at the Cerro Gordo County Law Enforcement Center.

No word yet on whether Michael Cisneros will take the stand on his behalf.

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