Crime

Parole denied for Rock Hill man in 1990 murder, rape case that spawned TV film

Convicted killer of Rock Hill teacher addresses parole board in 2014 hearing

Excerpts from the 2014 parole hearing for Edward Cronell, 48, who was convicted of raping and killing Melinda Snyder in 1990. This file video was published May 14, 2014.
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Excerpts from the 2014 parole hearing for Edward Cronell, 48, who was convicted of raping and killing Melinda Snyder in 1990. This file video was published May 14, 2014.

The South Carolina parole board denied release Wednesday to the convicted Rock Hill rapist and killer in a 1990 case that was the first in the state to use forced DNA to convict the defendant.

The Herald’s coverage of a previous state law that allows Edward Cronell to seek release every two years spawned an Investigation Discovery television documentary that aired earlier this month.

Cronell, 51, a real estate agent with access to the home of Melinda Snyder, a teacher and Winthrop University graduate, was sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years.

DNA evidence from the scene matched Cronell, but it took until 1994 for the case to go to trial, after the state Supreme Court forced Cronell to give a sample.

With the exception of identical twins, each person has a unique DNA profile. This makes DNA matching a powerful tool for finding and convicting the perpetrator of a crime.

Police and prosecutors argued that Cronell, scorned after a swinger’s party, assaulted Snyder and shot her.

The parole board voted Wednesday to deny Cronell’s second attempt at freedom, parole officials said. He cannot seek parole again until September 2018.

Since first being denied in 2014, Cronell, who has never shown remorse for the crime to parole officials, has been disciplined in prison for possession of a cellphone and using social media. Both of those infractions are against prison rules and Cronell was put in disciplinary detention for 60 days, plus other sanctions.

Cronell is eligible for a parole hearing every two years despite being sentenced to two life terms plus 30 years in prison.

State law before 1996 allowed prisoners sentenced to life to have a shot at parole after 20 years. The law was changed in 1996; under the change, a life sentence now means life without parole.

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