Three out of five defendants charged in Snoddy’s death to be arraigned on Friday

Taureen Snoddy Case Suspects

HANNIBAL, Mo. — Three of the five defendants allegedly involved in the murder of Taurean Snoddy will be arraigned at 11 a.m. Friday at the Marion County Courthouse in Hannibal. Two defendants are waiting on preliminary hearings.

Snoddy was found lying unresponsive in the street in the 1200 block of Lyon on the night of Jan. 25.  After CPR was performed, he was transported by emergency services to Hannibal Regional Hospital, where he died 45 minutes after Hannibal Police officers first arrived at the scene.

Braden Chestnutt, 19, Chad Elliott, 20, Dakota Laster, 23, and Damien McCulley, 25, all of Hannibal, were charged Jan. 28 with charges of second-degree murder and first-degree assault. Elliott and McCulley also have been charged with tampering with a victim. Howard J. Rickey, 44, was charged with assault in the first degree and resisting arrest for a felony.

Laster is set for preliminary hearing at 1:30 p.m. April 10 at the Marion County Courthouse in Hannibal in front of Judge John Jackson.

Rickey’s attorney, Fredrich Cruse, requested a change of judge. Rickey’s case has been reassigned to Judge David Mobley. The preliminary hearing will be held at 11 a.m. May 16 at the Marion County Courthouse.

McCulley appeared in court before Jackson on Monday afternoon by video from the Marion County Jail and waived his preliminary hearing.

Chestnutt and Elliot appeared before Jackson for a preliminary hearing on Monday afternoon. Prosecuting Attorney Luke Bryant appeared on behalf of the state.

Bryant called three witnesses to the stand in Chestnutt and Elliot’s hearings: Det. Jordan Freiling with the Hannibal Police Department, Det. Ryan Mulheron with the Hannibal Police Department and Marion County Coroner Rick Jones.

Jones testified Snoddy’s death is listed on the death certificate as accidental. Bryant asked him to explain why the certificate lists Snoddy’s death as an accident.

Jones said the first reports on Snoddy’s death said cardiac arrest from an overdose of methamphetamine. He said a complete medical exam was not done at the time. Jones said a more thorough medical exam reported Snoddy’s death due to intoxication by methamphetamine was coupled with excitement and injuries from being assaulted. Jones will amend the death certificate.

Jones told the court it is normal procedure to file the death certificate within 72 hours of the death. He explained sometimes coroners will amend a death certificate. He said he has done it about five or six times himself.

Matthew Mueller, Elliot’s attorney, questioned Jones during cross examination about whether Snoddy’s injuries and stress could be enough to cause cardiac arrest.

Jones testified he has seen people die from cardiac arrest due to an attack. He also said when he has seen cardiac arrest from a meth overdose, it is usually after respiratory failure occurs and the heart has stopped.

Bryant questioned Freiling about the information she received when she interviewed Chestnutt when he was arrested on Jan. 28. Chestnutt agreed to talk to Freiling without an attorney present.

Freiling testified Chestnutt said he was involved in a physical altercation with Snoddy and exchanged blows. She said Chestnutt alleged McCulley gave him the brass knuckles that reportedly used to hit Snoddy in the face during the fight. She said Chestnutt alleged Snoddy hit him in the face with a liquor bottle. She recalled Chestnutt had damage to his face when she spoke to him.

She also testified the fight started after defendants learned Snoddy allegedly assaulted his girlfriend, Melissa Rickey. Freiling said nothing is on record indicate Snoddy was arrested or charged with assault regarding the matter.

Bryant asked her if she knew who was the first to strike. Freiling said she was not sure of the timeline, because witnesses have told her several different stories.

Freiling also testified regarding her interview with Elliot at the Hannibal Police Department when he was arrested. Elliot agreed to speak to Freiling without an attorney present.

Freiling said Elliot told her he was not involved in the fight. Elliot also told Freiling he was unaware of brass knuckles, and he claimed he didn’t hit anyone.

Freiling said she heard varying stories regarding Elliot’s involvement, which is why he was arrested in connection to the alleged murder. 

Mueller objected to the line of questioning, calling it hearsay. Bryant responded that during a preliminary hearing, hearsay was allowed. Jackson sustained the objection. Bryant has now filed a motion regarding admissibility of hearsay at preliminary hearing.

Freiling testified witnesses named Elliot as a participant in the fight. One witness advised her that Elliot punched Snoddy and kicked him in the side several times, bragging about breaking his ribs. The witness also alleged Elliot bragged about the use of brass knuckles.

Freiling also testified she was told Snoddy was the one to walk away from the first fight before the second altercation began in the alley on the 1200 block of Lyon.

Freiling was asked about the witness accounts that Elliot only got involved in the fight to defend Chestnutt. She agreed that was one of the stories she heard.

“All I can say is Elliot appears to have been involved after Braden was struck,” Freiling said. She also said she was told Elliot tried to pull Snoddy off Chestnutt during the fight.

During cross examination, Mueller questioned Freiling whether Elliot was involved in the fight at all, pointing out Laster and Chestnutt did not mention Elliot’s involvement. Freiling replied she does not believe Elliot had previous involvement with Snoddy before that night.

When Hannibal Police Department Detective Ryan Mulheron was on the stand, he testified he was present during Snoddy’s autopsy. He stated the injuries to be:

  • Abrasion on bridge of the nose.
  • Laceration on from forehead and right temple.
  • Laceration on crown of his head to left ear, deeper on the crown.
  • Injuries on left arm and right knee.
  • Broken ribs on the right side.
  • Bruised lungs on lower back side.
  • Laceration on liver.
  • Swelling of the brain. 

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