Sneddon died Saturday at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital after a battle with cancer, said Patrick McKinley, a retired assistant district attorney for Santa Barbara County. Sneddon was 73.
"I don't think you will find a prosecutor in the district attorney's office who worked for him who has one bad thing to say about him. He was just a helluva boss," said McKinley, who worked with Sneddon for more than three decades.
"He wasn't afraid to make a decision," he said. "He would make a decision and away we'd go."
McKinley said he learned of Sneddon's death from Sneddon's wife.
News of Sneddon's death was first reported by the Santa Barbara News-Press.
Sneddon investigated Michael Jackson on child sexual abuse allegations in 1993 and again a decade later. The first case fell apart after a young boy's family accepted a multimillion dollar settlement from Jackson and declined to testify against him.
The probe closed with no charges. Jackson shot back in a thinly disguised swipe at the prosecutor in a song called "D.S." on the "HIStory" album. The song contains the lyrics, "Dom Sheldon is a cold man."
Jackson's defense attorney, Thomas Mesereau Jr., painted Sneddon as an overzealous prosecutor who had a "personal vendetta" against Jackson after the first case fell apart.
Sneddon continued to insist that he believed Jackson could be a danger to children and said he would have considered a conviction tragic, considering Jackson's accomplishments.
"If he had been convicted I think that part of it would have been a tragedy - like a Greek tragedy play of a person who obviously can bring great joy and entertainment to the people around the world, (who was) obviously a great entertainer at one point in his career, (who) could end up this way for whatever reason," he told the Associated Press in an interview after the verdict.
Sneddon retired in 2006.
Sneddon is survived by his wife and nine children, McKinley said.
Get Breaking news, live coverage, and Latest News from India and around the world on NDTV.com. Catch all the Live TV action on NDTV 24x7 and NDTV India. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for latest news and live news updates.