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Woman accused of hanging children and sex with dog to plead insanity

Mother, 37, accused of hanging her two children and having sex with the family dog plans insanity defense

  • Lisa Snyder’s defense lawyers cited a number of serious mental health issues on the part of their client
  • Snyder, 37, charged with , child endangerment, and evidence-tampering in September 2019 deaths of four-year-old Brinley and eight-year-old Conner
  • Brinley and Conner were found hanging from opposite ends of the same dog leash in basement of their Pennsylvania home 
  • Snyder blamed her son for killing his sister and then himself, claiming he was suicidal due to bullying 
  • Expert for prosecution argued the eight-year-old was not physically capable of hanging himself and his sister 
  • Defense also asked judge to separate bestiality charges related to Snyder’s dog from  murder case  

Defense attorneys for a Pennsylvania mother accused of hanging her two young children in the basement and having sex with the family dog plan to mount an insanity defense when her case goes to trial.

Lisa Snyder’s lawyers filed papers in Berks County Court on Thursday citing a number of serious mental health issues on the part of their client. 

They are also asking for the trial to be moved and for prosecutors to be barred from showing crime scene photos to jurors.

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Eight-year-old Conner and four-year-old Brinley

Lisa Snyder’s defense lawyers plan to mount an insanity defense when she goes on trial for allegedly hanging her two children, eight-year-old Conner and four-year-old Brinley (right)

The motion also includes a request for charges of bestiality and cruelty to animals involving Snyder and her dog to be separated from the murder case, arguing that evidence related to those counts to would ‘unfairly prejudice’ the jury. 

Snyder, 37, is charged with first- and third-degree murder, child endangerment, and evidence-tampering in the September 2019 deaths of four-year-old Brinley and eight-year-old Conner in the basement of her Albany Township home. 

Prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty if Snyder is convicted of first-degree murder.

Defense attorney Dennis Charles has dismissed the case as amounting to only ‘speculation and guesswork.’

Assistant District Attorney Margaret McCallum said Snyder was the only adult in the house when the children were found hanging from opposite ends of the same plastic-covered dog leash. They died from their injuries after taking off life support three days later. 

The Lehigh County coroner’s office concluded the cause of death for the children was hanging and ruled that both of the deaths were homicides.

Snyder's lawyers cited a number of serious mental health issues, including depression, anxiety and post-partum depression. Pictured: Snyder is seen being taken into custody

Snyder’s lawyers cited a number of serious mental health issues, including depression, anxiety and post-partum depression. Pictured: Snyder is seen being taken into custody 

Snyder has maintained that the children killed themselves. She had alleged Conner was bullied at school and wanted to take his own life, but did not want to go alone so he killed his sister as well using a dog leash, but authorities said there was no evidence of that, and he showed no sign of distress on bus security video that day. 

An occupational therapist said Conner was not physically capable of harming himself or his sister in that way.

Defense attorneys said in their filing that Snyder has a ‘chronic history of severe mental disorders,’ including major depression with psychotic features, anxiety disorder, affective disorder and post-partum depression dating to when she was 16.

At the time of the alleged homicides, they said, Snyder had recurrent and severe depression as well as borderline personality disorder and symptoms consistent with post-traumatic stress disorder, multiple personality disorder and dissociative disorder.

State police have said that Snyder searched topics including suicide, drug overdoses, death by hanging and how to kill someone. Snyder’s lawyers argue in their motion that the searches, which state police say were conducted using Conner’s Google account, have not been authenticated.

Snyder blamed her son (left) for killing his sister (right) and then himself, claiming he was suicidal due to bullying

Snyder blamed her son (left) for killing his sister (right) and then himself, claiming he was suicidal due to bullying

The dog-related charges stem from sexually explicit photos of Snyder with the family pet that were uncovered during the lengthy police investigation and are not related to the homicide charges. 

As police were going through Snyder’s social media content, they allegedly uncovered evidence on Facebook Messenger, including photos, suggesting the woman had sex with the family dog, previously described as a medium-sized husky-pit bull mix. 

The pet has been given away since the deaths of the children. 

Snyder is due back in court on February 12, 2021.   

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