Attorney for Emlenton Couple Who Kept Woman Locked in Bedroom: ‘There Was No Malicious Intent’

| September 28, 2020

VENANGO CO., Pa. (EYT) – The attorney for an Emlenton couple who kept a woman locked in a bedroom argued for leniency during their sentencing hearings on Friday.

Attorney Robbie Martin Taylor, counsel for 29-year-old Britany Nicole Hoover and 34-year-old Graham Scott Snyder, argued that the defendants were not malicious in their intent toward the victim – a 48-year-old female family member with intellectual disabilities who was in their care.

Taylor told the court that the victim was placed in the couple’s care after another family member could no longer take care of her, and it was found that her social security was not enough to afford the kind of facility that could meet her needs.

The living situation allegedly started out well but began to come into question when the victim started having some behaviors that endangered herself, as well as the couple’s children and pets.

“There was no malicious intent,” Taylor said, explaining that the defendants were only trying to find ways to keep both the victim and their children safe.

He said they understand that locking the victim in her room at times was “not the best way to go about it,” but went on to note they were already in discussions with other family members about finding new living arrangements for the victim.

“It was to protect her from herself,” he said.

Taylor also said the defendants were taking responsibility in the fact that looking back, they would have chosen to do things differently. He stated the issues discussed in the hearing were “not excuses,” but just an explanation of the intentions behind the behavior.

He went on to state that he believed that a time-served sentence with probation would be appropriate under the circumstances.

Hoover and Snyder both also spoke during the hearing, asking the judge to consider the extenuating circumstances of the case.

Hoover reported the victim’s behaviors had become “out of hand,” and included kicking, screaming, and breaking things. She also noted that they had been seeking out facilities that could meet the victim’s needs, but found they were all beyond the victim’s means.

“Looking back, we should have done things differently, but at the time we thought we were doing what was best.”

According to Hoover, other members of the victim’s family knew they were having issues, but no one “stepped up” to offer the victim another living situation.

She said that while they did lock the door of the victim’s room at times, to prevent her from harming herself or others in the household, she was not a prisoner, and often went out with the family, even on special trips such as camping and to the zoo.

Snyder stated that they had reached out to other family members about the issues they were having with the victim and had even spoken to one family member about the situation and the need to find a new living situation for the victim just one day prior to the incident that brought the charges against them.

“We had exhausted all of our resources,” he said.

He also referenced an incident where he struck the victim with a bag, stating the incident was related to a prior incident involving one of the children in the household, where he believed the victim had endangered the child. Snyder said he felt he had to choose between protecting the victim or protecting his family.

“We care for (the victim) and her well-being,” Snyder said.

“This wasn’t done with any malintent.”

Assistant District Attorney Justin Scott Fleeger did not agree with Taylor’s recommendation of probation.

“This is a case where I believe incarceration is appropriate,” Fleeger said.

Two of the victim’s other family members also spoke during the hearing.

The victim’s stepmother, Billie Schwab, said the victim has suffered from both anxiety and depression since living with the defendants and also has nerve damage from her treatment in the defendants’ home.

The victim’s mother, Rosemarie Rena, said that while the victim has maintained her “loving, kind, helpful” personality, she now listens to music often to cope with her emotions. She also noted the victim suffered damage to her back that requires her to see a chiropractor and a physical therapist on a regular basis.

Judge Robert L. Boyer considered all of the remarks related to the case prior to passing the sentences and noted that the defendants would be receiving different sentences due to having different prior record scores.

Boyer handed down five years of probation to Hoover, as follows:

– Five years of probation on one first-degree misdemeanor count of unlawful restraint/involuntary servitude.
– Two years of probation on one second-degree misdemeanor count of simple assault.
– Two years of probation on one second-degree count of misapplication entrusted/government/financial institution property.

The above conditions for Hoover were ordered to run concurrently.

Hoover was also ordered to perform 50 hours of community service, to have no contact with the victim, and to pay a total of $2,000.00 in restitution, jointly with co-defendant Graham Snyder.

Boyer ordered Snyder to a minimum of two months up to a maximum of one-year confinement, with eligibility for house arrest, to be followed by probation to total five years of total restrictive conditions, as follows:

– A minimum of two months up to a maximum of 12 months of confinement, with immediate eligibility for house arrest, on one second-degree misdemeanor count of simple assault.
– Five years of probation on one first-degree misdemeanor count of unlawful restraint/involuntary servitude.
– Two years of probation on one second-degree count of misapplication entrusted/government/financial institution property.

The above sentences for Snyder were ordered to run concurrently.

Snyder was also ordered to perform 50 hours of community service, to have no contact with the victim, and to pay a total of $2,000.00 in restitution, jointly with co-defendant Britany Hoover.

His sentence is scheduled to begin on October 9.

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