Crime victim draws on her experience to help others

Published: Thursday, April 30 2009 12:02 a.m. MDT

Yvette Rodier Evans gets a warm greeting at Wednesday's crime victims' conference.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

It was the perfect first date — and then he was murdered.

When Zach Snarr picked up his friend Yvette Rodier to go out to dinner, she thought they were still just friends. She didn't bother to dry her hair or even worry about what she'd wear.

"He took me on this great date. We had a fantastic time," she recalled Wednesday.

After dinner, they went to Little Dell Reservoir. Zach had brought his photo equipment, and they were going to take pictures of a beautiful full moon. An 18-year-old girl, she was hoping to end the night with a kiss.

"Nothing was wrong. Everything felt so great," she said. "Until this white truck pulled up."

The man in the truck didn't walk directly toward them, but he eventually approached the couple.

"He said, 'Do you know where this goes?' or 'Have you been here before?' " she remembered. "I looked up and said no, and turned my back. I don't know if Zach turned his back. I hope he did because at that moment, the man pulled out a gun and opened fire."

Before a packed room at the Utah Capitol on Wednesday, Yvette Rodier Evans recalled the night her friend died 13 years ago, recounting her journey from crime victim to victim rights advocate (she is now an attorney) and how the system both helped and hurt her. Her remarks were part of the 22nd annual Crime Victims Conference, with topics ranging from domestic violence and rape to cyberbullying and federal firearms laws.

Rodier Evans' poignant speech had victim advocates and state workers laughing and horrified at the same time.

"I screamed when he started shooting and then I yelled 'Oh my gosh!' and looking back, you say 'That's the worst swear word you can think of?' " she said.

The first bullet killed Zach Snarr. Rodier Evans was shot, but the man stopped to reload and emptied his gun into her. She was too numb to fear him until he put his hands in her pockets and she could feel his hot breath on her neck. She played dead.

"I was afraid he was going to rape me after he killed me," she said.

The man took Zach's wallet and car keys and she heard the man flee.

"Sometimes now I think what it must have been like to get in the car of someone you just killed and hear Neil Diamond," she said.

She willed herself up and screamed Zach's name. The silence was frightening. Blood poured down her face so much, she thought she was sweating. Rodier Evans said she scrambled up a mountainside for about 45 minutes until she could hear a car pull up.

"I yelled 'Help! We've been shot!' and they said, 'OK' and they got in their car and drove off," she recalled as audience members gasped.

But this was 1996 when cell phones weren't as readily available. The couple who heard her screams for help drove down the canyon to a home to call 911. Rodier Evans struggled to the road where the couple had returned. She wanted the police to go help Zach.

"I didn't want him alone," she said, tearing up. "My biggest regret that night is I didn't stay with him, that I didn't hold him, that I didn't put pressure on his wound."

Throughout her speech, Rodier Evans said it was the little moments that mattered, that made her feel human. As her jeans were being cut open by paramedics, she said she remembered feeling grateful she shaved her legs that day. As she was being flown by helicopter to LDS Hospital, a nurse pointed out the full moon.

Ultimately, police caught Jorge Benvenuto who admitted to the shootings. Rodier Evans said Benvenuto told police he killed her "to make sure I wasn't living the kind of life I'm living today."

To this day, Rodier Evans refuses to say his name.

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