07 January 2019 :
The Alabama Supreme Court announced that Emanuel Aaron Gissendanner, 43, Black, who was convicted of murdering Margaret Snellgrove in 2001 during a robbery and a kidnapping, will receive a new trial. After Gissendanner’s conviction, his lawyers filed a direct appeal and in 2007, the Dale County judge who sentenced Gissendanner to death granted him a new trial based on claims of ineffective counsel. “In his 70-page order, Judge Kenneth Quattlebaum found that Gissendanner's defense counsel were deficient in both the guilt phase and the penalty phase of the trial. The judge found that defense counsel failed to investigate and to prepare for trial. The judge also found that the State had violated case law]in failing to disclose handwriting samples to the defense,” the state’s highest court noted in its Friday ruling. Prosecutors appealed the judge’s order granting a new trial, and in 2014 the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals reversed Quattlebaum’s ruling and told the lower court to reinstate Gissendanner’s conviction and sentence. Today’s ruling from the Alabama Supreme Court overrules the appeals judgement, and orders the lower court to hold a new trial. Snellgrove was attacked and killed on June 22, 2001, with court records noting her cause of death as severe neck and head injuries. At Gissendanner’s original trial, police said Snellgrove was assaulted in her carport and then taken to a remote area where Gissendanner sometimes stayed. Officers also located the victim’s cell phone, purse, and other belongings in that trailer, trial records show.