CLAYTON, Mo. – The trial for Trenton Forster enters its third day as the chief detective who led the homicide investigation took the stand Wednesday morning. Forster is accused of killing St. Louis County police Officer Blake Snyder in October 2016.
The day began with the cross-examination of Detective Joe Percich, who was the lead detective in the murder investigation. He testified the St. Louis Area Crisis Intervention Team had visited Trenton Forster’s home on three occasions and that Forster was transported to the hospital because of suicidal threats. That was back in 2014 and 2015. The first visit came on Forster’s 16th birthday.
Percich said Forster acquired the 9mm handgun that killed Officer Snyder five days before the murder. He got his car 10 days before the murder and his other weapon, a .22 caliber long-gun made to look like an AK-47, three days before the murder. The .22 was not used in the killing.
He testified that Trenton’s father called police October 5 with concerns about his son.
Prosecutors called to the stand Wednesday the person who sold Forster the handgun used to kill Officer Snyder. The prosecution played video of the two at a convenience store making the exchange, where Forster paid $550 for the handgun. He then purchased another gun from one of the man’s acquaintances for the same price.
That person said he hesitated to sell the gun to Forster because of his young age but ended up selling it to him anyway.
Following his testimony, Dr. Sarah Riley, SLUCare Forensic Toxicology Laboratory, took the stand. She spoke in-depth about the tests given following the shooting and what traces of drugs were found in Forster’s system. She pointed to a preliminary test showing Xanax, marijuana, and opioids in his blood system but wouldn’t say how much.
She described the side effects of these drugs, which include drowsiness, impaired memory, lack of inhibition, slurred speech, itchy skin, and lack of coordination.
Zackery Harder, an employee at Mid-America Arms, testified that in late September 2016, Forster came in the store smelling of marijuana. They would not sell him guns or ammo. He came in a second and third time but each time store employees refused to sell him anything. On cross-examination, Harder said Forster told him that he was living out of his car that he needed guns for protection.
Sabriyia Faleh, Forster’s friend from high school, was next on the witness stand. She said Forster went to her house the night before the shooting looking for a place to stay and said he’d been kicked out of his family’s residence. She said Forster was high and told her he’d taken hydrocodone and Xanax. He also had a bag of miscellaneous pills with him.
Faleh testified Forster appeared depressed and was crying, and discussed taking the entire bag of pills and killing himself. Later, Forster showed Faleh his two guns and ammunition.
Prosecutors said Forster sent a message to Faleh approximately six hours before the shooting that said, “I need you right now.”
Tricia Rodgers, an employee for the St. Louis County Jail, took the stand to talk about phone calls that are monitored and recorded. She said people being held in jail are notified their conversations will be taped.
Prosecutors then played audio recordings of a phone call between Forster and his father. Forster said, “f*** the police” at one point during the call with his father and went on to claim that police were once bullied when they were younger and now they’re just getting back at people.
On Wednesday afternoon, the defense called a psych expert as its first witness of the trial. The expert said Forster suffered from a host of mental health issues as a child and that the problems worsened in his teenage years, resulting in having suicidal thoughts.
Both the prosecution and Forster’s public defender agree he shot and killed Officer Snyder.
The prosecution is attempting to paint Forster as a drug user and dealer and somebody who hated the police and the government. They said he was suicidal and maybe wanted to be killed by police.
According to prosecutors, Forster was obsessed with getting a gun and ammunition.
Meanwhile, defense attorney Stephen Reynolds is attempting to convince jurors to convict Forster of second-degree murder instead of first-degree murder. Reynolds said Forster is bi-polar, began drinking alcohol in grade school, and later got hooked on drugs.
A conviction on first-degree would carry a life sentence without the possibility of parole. If Forster’s convicted of second-degree murder, he’d face 30 years in prison but would be eligible for early release.