CLAYTON, Mo. — The jury has returned from their deliberation with a verdict in the murder trial of Trenton Forster. He has been convicted of first-degree murder for the 2016 shooting death of St. Louis County Officer Blake Snyder. Trenton has been found guilty on all four charges. The counts include murder in the first degree, two counts armed criminal action, and assault on a police officer. This means a sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole.
One hundred police officers and department employees lined the fourth-floor hallway Friday as Blake Snyder's widow, mother, father, extended family, and friends walked to the courtroom to hear final arguments in the Trenton Forster murder trial Friday morning. Jurors spent Friday trying to determine if Forster committed first or second-degree murder.
The jury came back to the courtroom once Friday afternoon and asked for two things during their deliberations. They wanted to know the exact definition of, “deliberation and cool reflection.” They also asked to see a specific exhibit from the trial. Said exhibit has not been released to the public.
Judge Kerr read the jury their instructions today. She said that reflection and deliberation, no matter how brief, are an important part of determining a first-degree murder charge. Being high on drugs does not excuse a person from being responsible for the murder. The judge told jurors that psychosis and or hallucination does make a person not responsible.
The prosecution went first Friday morning. They played the final radio transmission of officer Snyder, with him telling the dispatcher that he was arriving on the scene, in effect his last words that were ever recorded. He said it all comes down to deliberation. If jurors believe Trenton deliberated then he’s guilty of first-degree murder.
Prosecutor Alan Key showed the jury several social media posts showing Trenton’s hate for police. He made statements to friends who testified saying, “I’ll kill a cop before I got back to jail.”
A paramedic testified that Trenton said in the ambulance the morning of the murder in 2016 that he would not have shot if he knew the person was a cop. He added, “He snuck up on me.”
The prosecution says that isn't possible. Testimony shows Officer Snyder approached first saying, "Hey bud. Show me your hand." Police said "Show me your hands" about five times.
The prosecutor said Trenton knew exactly what was happening. He says that this was a classic case of suicide by cop. They say Trenton is a liar and a manipulator. He’s been that way all his life. Family members said the same.
Key called the psychologist’s testimony on behalf of Trenton “a joke.” He said she disregarded evidence that did not prove her findings. She said that Trenton was bi-polar and on drugs at the time of the killing. The psychologist said he did not deliberate the murder or the shooting.
The attorney for the defense took jurors on a tour of Trenton's life this morning. He said that parenting by mom and dad was terrible. There was no attempt to rehabilitate him when he started drinking in middle school. The attorney showed a videotape taken on a friend's cell phone of Trenton so high on drugs that could hardly speak or communicate.
Trenton was put in hospitals for mental problems several times. He was supposed to go to drug treatment for a few months. His father pulled him out after Trenton complained. There were times that police took Trenton to the hospital because he threatened suicide or to kill family members.
The defense attorney then focused on the days and hours leading up to the murder. Trenton was homeless and family members would not let him live with them. He was constantly impaired on drugs, he threatened suicide, and talked about hating cops.
The attorney told jurors they must decide if his bi-polar manic phase impacted his behavior and his awareness so he could not deliberate or cooly reflect when he pulled the trigger. He said Trenton was in such a state, bipolar and high on drugs and paranoid he reacted to the officer there was no cognition going on. He was not aware of anything and he reacted.
The prosecution wrapped up saying Trenton is a liar and manipulative. "It’s a classic case of suicide by cop," he added. "One of the most selfish things you can do, but it’s right up Trenton’s alley."
He reminded jurors that being on drugs is not a defense. He said when Officer Snyder said, "Show me your hands," for Trenton it was time: he was going in a box (coffin) or to jail.