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Witness Says Woman’s Letter Admitted Plot to Kill Husband

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A prosecution witness stunned a San Fernando courtroom Wednesday by claiming that a Woodland Hills woman on trial for hiring him to kill her pornographer husband wrote a letter from jail admitting her role in the slaying.

Victor Diaz, 47, who previously acknowledged that he killed flamboyant sex video producer Theodore J. Snyder two years ago, said he gave his attorney the letter from defendant Sharon Snyder, 41.

Superior Court Judge Malcolm H. Mackey summoned the attorney, Deputy Public Defender Alan Budde, to court today for questioning about the testimony.

Diaz made the claim under cross-examination by Snyder’s attorney, Alex R. Kessel, who said later that he was surprised and elated about the testimony. “I’m convinced there’s no such letter,” Kessel said, predicting that Diaz’s claim will “sharply lessen this man’s credibility with the jury.”

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Kessel said in an interview that he had heard from jail sources that Diaz was talking freely about a letter from Sharon Snyder, but said he had “expected him to deny the whole thing when I asked the question.”

“It’s the first I heard about it,” Deputy Dist. Atty. Lawrence E. Mason told the judge. Mason said he would very much like to see the letter. Mason’s case against Sharon Snyder appears to rely heavily on Diaz’s testimony that he killed Theodore Snyder at her behest.

It was unclear whether attorney-client privilege would affect Budde’s testimony. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Mason, who otherwise has declined to discuss the case with reporters, acknowledged that Diaz has been promised that if he testifies against Sharon Snyder, he will be allowed to plead guilty to second-degree murder and be sentenced to 17 years in prison.

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Snyder, who is charged with murder, could be sentenced to life in prison without parole if jurors decide that she killed her husband for financial gain, as charged by the prosecution.

Theodore Snyder was machine-gunned to death in Northridge Aug. 1, 1989. Police initially suspected that the killing was a Mafia “hit” because he was $105,000 in debt to an East Coast crime family.

However, Sharon Snyder and Diaz were charged with the murder four months later.

Throughout a preliminary hearing in April, 1990, both Snyder and Diaz, who have been in custody since their arrests, maintained their innocence.

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However, shortly after the hearing, at which both were ordered to stand trial, Diaz told investigators that he committed the murder out of love for Sharon Snyder, who he said had promised to share her inheritance with him.

In court this week, Diaz said that the killing was Sharon Snyder’s idea and that he did it “because I was in pretty deep emotionally with her.”

Diaz admitted that he had supplied cocaine regularly to the Snyders for at least a year before the killing and said Theodore Snyder had threatened to kill him over a $2,500 drug purchase dispute.


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