CLAYTON, Mo. (KMOV.com) -- Around 150 police officers cheered, some in tears, in the courtroom after the jury delivered the guilty verdict in the Officer Blake Snyder murder trial Friday.
Jurors found Trenton Forster guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting death of St. Louis County Officer Snyder after 4:30 p.m. Friday.
Forster shot and killed Officer Snyder while responding to a disturbance call in October, 2016 in the suburban Green Park area. Police said Forster fired at Officer Snyder immediately after he arrived at the scene and got out of his vehicle.
Snyder, a four-year veteran of the police department, was pronounced dead shortly after the shooting. Snyder left behind a wife and a 2-year-old son.
The prosecution team told the jury Forster told others he hated the police and wanted a confrontation with an officer. The team also said Forster had time to consider his actions before he shot Officer Snyder in the face.
Jurors had to decide whether Forster was guilty of first-degree or second-degree murder.
Forster was convicted with first-degree murder, attempted assault on another police officer and two counts of armed criminal action.
The first-degree murder charge brings with it an automatic mandatory life sentence without parole. Prosecutors announced they would not seek the death penalty. He will be sentenced in April.
St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell said there was an abundance of evidence and he hopes the verdict sets a path for the family toward healing.
"When people cross the line to harming people and committing violent crimes, and I've been consistent about this, they will be and should be held accountable," Bell said.
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar thanked the detectives who investigated the shootings and the prosecutors who tried the case.
Snyder's widow Elizabeth shared her thoughts on the verdict on Facebook:
Closing arguments in the trial took place Friday morning after five days of testimony. The jury heard evidence regarding Forster’s childhood, drug use, emotional and mental problems as well as hostility toward police officers.
The jury, which is comprised of six men and six women, deliberated his fate for four and a half hours.
Prior to closing arguments, Forster was taken into the judge's chambers and asked whether he planned to testify. Shortly after, the defense said they rested their case. Forster did not end up testifying.
Prosecution closing arguments
In closing arguments, the prosecution called the incident, “a classic case of suicide by cop.” The prosecution continued, stating that Forster left his cell phone and drugs in the backyard of the house he was knocking on before the fatal shooting because he knew he was going to his car and that he was about to die.
The prosecution also countered what Forster allegedly told a paramedic after the shooting. The paramedic testified that Forster said he didn’t know Snyder was a cop and that if he knew he was a cop he wouldn’t have shot.
In closing arguments, the prosecution stated that Forster made multiple different comments to people about wanting a confrontation with a cop and that he would kill a cop before going to jail. The prosecutor continued and stated that no one snuck up on Forster and one officer pulled up in front of him before Officer Snyder came up to his window to talk to him.
The prosecution said Forster had time to deliberate and that what he told the paramedic was another attempt to lie and manipulate.
Defense closing arguments
When the defense presented their closing arguments, they made the point that Forster’s “parenting was disastrous.”
The defense also stated that Forster had multiple diagnoses of mental disorders and that mental illness can impact behavior without it being so severe that you have psychosis. They also stated that bipolar disorder and drug use impacted Forster’s behavior and his awareness so he could not have cool reflection. The law reportedly states that first-degree murder is if there is cool reflection.
The defense went on to state that if Forster wanted to commit suicide by a cop he could have just used a pellet gun that he already had instead of trying to acquire a real gun.
Officers line hallway outside courtroom
A large crowd of St. Louis County officers were outside the courtroom to show their support for fallen officer Blake Snyder’s family before the final day of the trial began.
News 4’s Russell Kinsaul captured the halls lined with uniformed officers as the courtroom filled up Friday morning.
Around the same time, the St. Louis County Police Department took to Facebook and asked people to “pray for convictions of Murder 1st Degree, Assault 2nd Degree, and the two ACA charges.”
Also in their Friday morning post, the department said if the suspect is convicted on first-degree murder he will spend the rest of his life in prison but if he is sentenced on second-degree murder he will be out of prison when he’s in his 50’s.