Kansas Court Employee Sharon Snyder Fired For Helping Prove Man's Innocence

| by Amanda Schallert

A Kansas City man was freed from prison after being wrongly convicted of rape, but the court employee who helped prove his innocence was fired even though she was a great-grandmother just nine months away from retiring.

Sharon Snyder, 70, worked for the court for 34 years before the Jackson County Circuit judge David Byrn fired her at the end of June, according to 

Byrn said Snyder had violated a court rule that prohibited court employees from giving advice or opinion and talking about court issue with outsiders, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The case involved Robert Nelson, who was given 50 years behind bars for rape and forced sodomy in 1984. Nelson was also serving time for robbery at the time he was convicted.

Nelson’s sentence for rape began in 2006. Five years into the sentence, Snyder decided to help him because she saw he had filed two motions for DNA tests that the court had rejected.

Snyder furthered Nelson’s cause and helped out by giving his sister a form of a petition for DNA testing that had been successful. 

"(Snyder) gave me a lot of hope," Nelson said. "She and my sister gave me strength to go on and keep trying. I call her my angel. She says she's not, but she truly is."

The Kansas City Police Department discovered that the DNA samples from the scene of the crime did not match Nelson’s DNA. Because the DNA testing form was accepted by the court. Nelson was released from prison last month. 

Snyder is still set to receive her full pension.

"At first I didn't know if my pension was going to be intact, and all I could do was curl up in a fetal position and cry," Snyder said.

Snyder said she thinks she may have answered Nelson’s prayers.

"I lent an ear to his sister, and maybe I did wrong," she said. "But if it was my brother, I would go to every resource I could possibly find."

Sources:, San Francisco Chronicle