Depauw woman pleads guilty in murder case
A Harrison County woman pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter and will be sentenced to 10 years in prison for her role in the January 2016 murder of Ralph Thomas in Palmyra, according to the Harrison County Prosecutor’s office.
A jury trial, scheduled for next week, was canceled.
Tara Van Winkle Snawder, 32, of Depauw, accompanied Travis Fentress, 34, on Jan. 13, 2016, when he shot and killed Thomas and attempted to murder his wife, the former Rebecca Rowley, in their home along Huff Street in Palmyra.
Thomas, whom police said was shot in the head, was transported by Air Methods air ambulance to University Hospital in Louisville, where he died in the early morning hours of Jan. 15.
His wife, whom he wed on Jan. 5, had gunshot wounds to her shoulder and jaw, police said. She was transported by ground ambulance by Harrison County Hospital Emergency Medical Services with non-life-threatening injuries.
Capt. Brad Shepherd of the Harrison County Sheriff’s Dept. said the Thomases were inside their home when police arrived in response to a 911 call about the shootings.
Rebecca Thomas was able to tell police who had been in their home and provided a description of the vehicle, a white Kia with a Florida license plate.
Fentress, of Pensacola, Fla., who formerly resided in northern Harrison County, and Snawder were taken into custody the evening of Jan. 14 in Madison.
Fentress was found guilty of murder in December and will ‘never experience freedom outside the confines of cinder-block walls for the remainder of his life,’ Harrison County Prosecutor J. Otto Schalk said.
Snawder was originally charged with murder and strangulation.
‘The facts of this case were quite clear that the co-defendant, Travis Fentress, was the primary actor in the murder and attempted murder of Ralph Thomas and Rebecca Rowley,’ Schalk said. ‘From all accounts, Fentress was the lone trigger man and was alone with the victims in their home at the time of the shooting. However, it was also quite apparent that the defendant was motivated by the taunting of his girlfriend, Tara Snawder. This cold-blooded murder seemed to be in an effort to appease his calloused girlfriend.
‘While Fentress will likely spend the remainder of his days in prison, I believe that justice would not have been served by letting Snawder off free from any consequence, despite her somewhat limited role in the murder,’ he continued. ‘It was the State’s belief that her words and actions did contribute to this senseless loss of life, and, as a result, she will be sentenced to 10 years of prison.’
Snawder’s sentencing hearing will be Thursday, March 9, at 9 a.m. in Superior Court at the Justice Center in north Corydon.