TORRINGTON – Jamie Stuart Snyder will spend the rest of his life in prison for murdering Wade Erschabeck two years ago in Fort Laramie.
A jury found Snyder guilty of first degree murder in February, and he was sentenced Tuesday in the Eighth Judicial District Court. Judge Patrick Korell determined mitigating factors in the case, such as Snyder’s mental health – which was heavily discussed during the trial – were substantial enough that he could be eligible for parole in his lifetime. But, Korell said, state law makes it clear – an eye for an eye, a life for
“Our society doesn’t allow this,” Korell said. “It creates the most serious punishment for an actor who takes the life of another. It’s an eye-for-an-eye called retribution – you’ve taken the life of another, and the legislature has seen fit to take your life in some way.”
Snyder’s guilty verdict came after a four-day trial in which Snyder’s defense attorney, Jonathon Foreman, and Goshen County Attorney Eric Boyer battled over Snyder’s mental health, his actions the day of the stabbing and his interview and subsequent confession obtained by the Goshen County Sheriff’s Office.
Since that time, Snyder has maintained he was wrongly accused and convicted. During his sentencing hearing, Snyder placed the blame for his conviction on his defense team.
“I feel that the counsel provided to me was insufficient,” Snyder said when he had the opportunity to address the court. “I said not guilty, and then I was overrode on my own case, the plea of not guilty by mental illness was put in place, and there was no doctor provided to testify on my behalf.”
Snyder told the court he was not satisfied with Foreman’s representation, and as such was represented during the sentencing hearing by co-counsel Charles MacDonald. MacDonald argued the jury did not have a complete picture of Snyder’s mental health issues, and that Snyder’s lack of criminal history suggested he was unlikely to commit such a serious crime.
“I think the state is pounding more than what was there,” MacDonald said. “It was a trivial motivation that would cause Jamie to commit this act. I’m not saying he’s a raving lunatic, but it is the sort of thing that could tip the scales in action, and that is much more significant than what has been addressed.”
But Korell said Snyder’s mental health had been taken into consideration during the proceedings, and that his issues weren’t serious enough to mount a defense.
“You chose to take matters into your own hands and make a final decision for somebody else,” Korell said.
“Once that knife plunged into his chest, there was no turning back. You attempted to cover up by hiding and ditching clothing.”