Preliminary examination set for murder/arson suspect.

June 8, 2022

Hope Snyder with attorney Tracie Dinehart.

Preliminary examination set for murder/arson suspect.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

LUDINGTON — The woman accused of killing Sheridan Township resident Jeffrey Grant has been found competent to stand trial. Hope Lynn Snyder of Chippewa County, appeared in Mason County’s 79th District Court today, Wednesday, June 8, 2022, where Judge John Middlebrook presented a report from a mental competency examination. In April, Snyder, who was 41-years-old at the time of her arrest in November 2021, was ordered to take the examination. 

Jeffrey Grant, 57, died in a house fire at 3746 N. Morse Road in Sheridan Township on Nov. 22, 2021. Grant’s two dogs also died in the fire. The main suspect in the case, Snyder, of 81 Kincheloe Drive, Kincheloe, Chippewa County faces five felony charges: 

  • Homicide, open murder, punishable by up to life imprisonment. 
  • Homicide, felony murder, punishable by life imprisonment without parole. 
  • First degree arson, punishable by up to life imprisonment and/or a $20,000 fine, or three times the value of the property damaged or destroyed, whichever is greater.
  • Animals, killing/torturing, second degree (two counts), punishable by up to seven years imprisonment and/or a $5,000 fine. 
  • Habitual offender, third offense, increasing the maximum sentence on the primary offense to twice the term. She has served prison time for two prior felonies, a larceny to a building charge from Mackinaw County and a theft charge from Alaska.

Snyder also plead guilty on Feb. 1, 2022 of unlawfully driving away a motor vehicle on Nov. 22, 2021. She has not been sentenced for that crime yet.  

Jeffrey Grant

Also during Wednesday’s hearing, Snyder’s attorney, Tracie Dinehart, requested the mental competency report be sealed, which Judge Middlebrook agreed. Dinehart then made an oral motion to dismiss the case based on the lack of discovery being provide to the defense by the Mason County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. 

Discovery is the formal process of exchanging information between the parties involved in a court case about the witnesses and evidence they’ll present at trial. Dinehart had recently been assigned as Snyder’s public defender, replacing Al Swanson Jr., who had previously been her court appointed attorney. Dinehart told the court that she had received the discovery from Swanson but that over 78 documents were missing. When she asked the prosecutor’s clerk for the discovery she was told that the prosecutor’s staff did not have time to furnish that information. 

“I have only received a third of the discovery of what is currently within this particular file,” Dinehart said, adding that Swanson had provided all the information that he had received. Dinehart said she was missing pertinent information including the autopsy report, fire reports and toxicology. 

“I do not know how it is so complicated to put the information on a thumb drive and give me the documents,” Dinehart said. 

Scene of the fire at 3746 N. Morse Rd.

Mason County Prosecuting Attorney Lauren Kreinbrink said she did not agree that dismissing the case was an appropriate remedy to Dinehart’s complaint. 

“There was an expectation that when Ms. Dinehart took over this case that Mr. Swanson would hand it over. Nothing was withheld,” Kreinbrink said. 

Judge Middlebrook ordered the prosecutor’s office to turn over all discovery by June 29. He then scheduled a preliminary examination to begin on Monday, July 25 at 9 a.m. Middlebrook asked both attorneys to try to complete the examination in one day because he is scheduled to be in court in Oceana County on Tuesday, July 26, adding that if he needed to, he would cancel the Oceana County court. 

The preliminary examination will be an opportunity for both the prosecution and defense to present evidence and witnesses to the court in order to determine if there is probable cause to move the case to circuit court proceedings. 

During a March press conference, Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole said in his 30-plus years of law enforcement, he had never seen a case like this one.  

Cole said sheriff’s office detectives have conducted over 18 interviews and executed over 23 search warrants, including eight digital devices. Investigations have been conducted in Osceola, Saginaw, Lapeer, Tuscola and Mackinaw counties and Anchorage, Alaska. Detectives have even worked with police from Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Snyder was apprehended by police while attempting to board a flight to Alaska at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. She had initially taken a flight from Saginaw to Detroit. 

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