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Judge reduces suspect’s bond in hit-and-run death case

Ronal Norwood

Ronal Norwood, 61, of Temple, had his bond reduced from $500,000 to $300,000 but remained in custody at the Bell County Jail Friday since he couldn't pay the reduced amount.

BELTON — Ronal Norwood, who is charged in the hit-and-run death of 13-year-old Richard Snyder, had his bond reduced Friday afternoon, but he still remains in custody at the Bell County Jail.

Bell County 426th Judicial Court Judge Fancy Jezek reduced Norwood’s bond from $500,000 to $300,000 with heavy bond conditions to be imposed if was able to make bond, the defendant’s attorney Brett Pritchard said.

 “We were requesting bond at a reasonable amount that would ensure justice but would allow him (Norwood) the opportunity to work and earn the money needed to secure legal help,” Pritchard said. “We think the bond amount is excessive because of the facts in the case as we know them. Before I took the case, I did an extensive investigation, and I don’t believe the facts as they’ve been portrayed in some of the media.”

Norwood is charged with the Nov. 18 hit-and-run accident that caused the death of 13-year-old Richard Snyder of Belton on Nov. 20. The official charge is accident involving death, a second-degree felony.

Richard Snyder’s family attended the bond hearing, listening to arguments from the defense and prosecution.

The boy’s father, Rick Snyder, watched Norwood as the defendant was led into his seat at a table, surrounded by two of his attorneys, David Fernandez and Ryan Lawton. Pritchard was also seated behind his client.

Members of Norwood’s family were there to support him, Pritchard said.

Norwood is charged with hitting the boy with his pickup truck on an Interstate 35 frontage road after he left the scene of the accident and then reportedly told his two grandsons, ages 7 and 9, both passengers in his pickup, to lie about what happened.

After hitting something in the dark, Norwood reportedly was told by a grandson there was a body in the road, but Norwood drove away, later stopped to change his tire and went home, according to an arrest affidavit.

Norwood told police he was driving his pickup in Belton and thought he had a blowout, the affidavit said.

Richard was riding his bicycle with friends near the Belton RV Park north of Loop 121 when he was struck. He was taken in critical condition to Baylor Scott & White McLane’s Children Medical Center in Temple, where he died the morning of his 13th birthday.

Fernandez talked about Norwood, the 61-year-old man who moved to Temple in 2012 from Corsicana. Norwood has been married for 40 years and is raising three grandsons, ages 18, 9 and 7. He’s been employed with Home Depot for 12 years, although he is now on a leave of absence and his future with the company isn’t known. He talked about Norwood’s ties to Bell County and stressed that Norwood only had about $2,500 available to pay his bond.

“Mr. Norwood went to the (Belton) Police Department at about 9 a.m. Saturday after that Friday night’s accident. He took the two children there to be interviewed on Monday or Tuesday because they were passengers in the pickup when the accident happened. He’s cooperated,” Fernandez said in court.

Bell County Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Newell said that Norwood asked his two grandsons to lie before they made statements, and it was a real concern that, if he made bail, he would have contact with the two witnesses. She said that the district attorney’s office opposed the bond reduction in a second-degree felony case that resulted in a death.

Fernandez countered that Norwood could live with his daughter and have no contact with the two grandchildren, but Newell said that would be hard to enforce.

“He (Norwood) didn’t stop, he repaired his truck and he is a flight risk. He tried to hide evidence and cover up his crime. We want to leave the bond as it is,” Newell said.

People sitting with the Snyder family shook their heads and frowned as they listened to the arguments why Norwood should be allowed a lower bond.

Jezek said that she would take the decision under advisement, and went to her chambers to speak with all of the attorneys involved in the case. Jezek didn’t say when the decision would be made.

Richard’s family remained in the courtroom for a few minutes before they filed out to wait in another room. Hollie Snyder rubbed her husband’s back and squeezed his shoulder to comfort him.

Richard’s eyes, heart valves, liver and kidneys were donated to five people to help save and improve their lives, Racheal Snyder, his 20-year-old sister, previously said.

The Snyder family and others contacted the Belton Independent School District to request that bus stop changes be made for the Twin Oaks Mobile Park, which is where Snyder died and where one school bus picked up and dropped off children on the I-35 frontage road.

The stop at the entrance of the park was moved from the frontage road to inside the park. Buses are making two stops there for secondary students and three stops for elementary stops, Belton ISD spokesman Kyle DeBeer said Friday.