Motorcyclist gets probation in road rage incident in which he got shot

By Rita Farlow, Times Staff Writer

Published: Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A St. Pete Beach man accused of pummeling an elderly driver in a hospital parking lot after a road rage incident this summer received two years of probation Monday.

The lack of jail time angered the family of the victim, who was seriously injured. But the defendant’s attorney says the case is not so clear-cut â?? that his client got injured, too.

George S. Hall, 64, pleaded no contest to a charge of battery on a person over age 65, and adjudication was withheld, said his defense attorney, Roger Futerman.

“He didn’t feel he was wrong, but he wanted to get the case behind him,” Futerman said.

That rankled Lydia Snyder, the daughter of Nathan Snyder, the man Hall is accused of attacking.

“How can he possibly say he doesn’t think he was wrong when he followed my father with the intent to cause brutal bodily harm?” she asked.

According to an arrest report by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, Hall was upset with the 83-year-old Snyder on July 3 because he believed Snyder cut him off as he drove his motorcycle near the intersection of Gulfport Boulevard and Pasadena Avenue.

Deputies said Hall followed Snyder to Palms of Pasadena Hospital, then attacked him. Snyder was going there to visit his wife, who was recovering from a pacemaker replacement.

During the scuffle, Snyder pulled out a 9mm semiautomatic handgun and fired, striking Hall in the upper arm.

Deputies did not charge Snyder, who had a concealed weapons permit, saying he acted in self-defense.

Lydia Snyder, his daughter, said her family was very upset and believed Hall should have served time.

“The system let us down today,” she said. “We had no justice as far as we’re concerned.”

The State Attorney’s Office agreed that Hall should receive some jail time, said Assistant State Attorney Brian Daniels. But Hall’s lack of a criminal record meant he did not qualify for mandatory incarceration. He was sentenced by Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Timothy Peters.

Snyder’s son, Jacob, a lawyer in Philadelphia, said he was disappointed in the judge’s decision.

“With the nature of injuries and the age of my father, I think the judge should have exercised his discretion and sentenced him to jail time,” he said.

Nathan Snyder, a Holocaust survivor who retired to St. Petersburg from Philadelphia in 1984, suffered a fractured hip, spent nearly a month hospitalized and has had two surgeries. He needs a walker to get around, Lydia Snyder said, and has been having nightmares and panic attacks.

“This has really affected my father,” she said. “It’s devastated him. It’s changed his life, and he’s still suffering.”

Through his defense attorney Roger Futerman, Hall declined to be interviewed. But Futerman said his client refutes Snyder’s version of events.

“He felt that when this dispute happened that Mr. Snyder overreacted, and that Mr. Snyder shouldn’t have been carrying a loaded gun with 13 rounds of ammunition,” Futerman said. “My guy got shot, and he felt that Mr. Snyder should have been charged with attempted murder.”

Jacob Snyder said the sentence did not fit the crime.

“What kind of message does this send to the community? I think the message is commit road rage, seriously injure somebody and get a slap on the wrist.”