TORRINGTON – Jamie Snyder, of Fort Laramie, is a convicted murderer.
Snyder was found guilty of first-degree by a jury of his peers after around on hour of deliberations on Thursday evening after a four-day trial.
Judge Patrick Korell thanked the jury for their service, and remanded Snyder to the custody of the Goshen County Sheriff’s Office until he is sentenced, which Korell said will be within 60 days. Snyder’s maximum sentence could be life in prison without the possibility of parole.
“Mr. Snyder, the jury has found you guilty,” Korell said. “I will remand you to the custody of the Goshen County Sheriff’s Office. The court will review a pre-sentence investigation, and we will and ask the Department of Corrections to prepare the report. You are required to participate in the preparation of the report, and we will be back before the court in 60 days.”
On day three, the defense team for Snyder finished making its case at 1:25 p.m
The jury consisting of three women and 11 men is now tasked with deciding if Snyder is guilty of first degree murder. He stands accused of fatally stabbing Wade Erschabeck on May 24, 2018 in Fort Laramie. If he is found guilty, Snyder could face life in prison.
Snyder waived his right to remain silent to take the stand on the last day of his trial. He told the jury that he had nothing to do with the slaying, and that he was at home during the alleged offense.
“Did you interact with Wade Erschabeck on May 24?” Snyder’s attorney, Jonathon Foreman, asked.
“I did not,” Snyder said.
“Did you stab Wade Erschabeck?” Foreman asked.
“No,” Snyder said.
During Goshen County Attorney Eric Boyer’s closing statement, he argued the state had proven Snyder’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and that he should be found guilty of first-degree murder, and the Snyder was mentally fit to tell right from wrong when the victim was killed.
He pointed out the Snyder’s accounts of the events varied multiple times throughout the case.
“The defendant has claimed he was home all day, and he variously claimed this was an accident, that he maybe pulled the knife because he was somehow afraid of Wade Erschabeck, the defendant claimed Wade jumped on the knife,” Boyer said. “As the evidence showed, the state has proven beyond reasonable doubt that Jamie Snyder, with premeditated malice, killed Wade Erschabeck without a sudden heat of passion.”
Boyer told the court Snyder had planned his attack, and had even told Michael Paules the day prior that Eschabeck “needed to die.”
“The evidence showed that in the days before the murder, he was looking for three suspects in an alleged burglary of his own. He took this on his own is spite of warning from (Sheriff) Kory Fleenor (who spoke with Snyder the day of the attack. The last suspect was Wade Erschabeck.
“In the days prior to May 24, the evidence showed he had a grudge against Wade.”
Foreman’s closing argument hinged on Snyder’s mental health, and he asserted that the state, as well as Dr. Katherine Mahaffey of the Wyoming State Hospital, had downplayed Snyder’s mental issues.
“He believed people were surveilling him,” Foreman said. “He saw tri-colored people in his yard that he believed were going to kill him. He believed he was Rasputin, a Russian priest killed in 1917. He was a fire-breathing dragon. He believed he was a wolf, his friend was a fox and they were at war with the birds. He believed there are lizard people running things, that he controlled weather, that he’s a god, that he gave birth to Gavin (Martin’s) sister’s boyfriend. These are all documented by the examiners.”
Foreman said Mahaffey had decided she “didn’t want to deal with Jamie” and that’s why she found him to be competent.
“Dr. Mahaffey doesn’t want to deal with Jamie,” Foreman said. “She doesn’t want to deal with him. You could see it in her demeanor. She wasn’t enthusiastic about treating him. She had a conflict of interest - I don’t think she wanted him in Evanston. He sexually harassed a nurse. He got two patients to fight. What’s the quickest way to get rid of him? Call it a personality disorder. It’s up to you whether you want to go along with that.
“Her opinion is under her control. It’s subjective.
“That is what is going on here.”
Foreman also argued that even if the jury agrees with the state the Snyder was present at the scene, his actions were not premeditated.
“What state has to show is that Jamie Snyder went there with the intent to kill Wade Erschabeck, that it was his intent to kill – not to hurt or main, to kill,” Foreman said. “If his goal was to kill, why would he drop the knife? Over at the penitentiary, someone did get killed, with a shank, six times in neck. That’s intent to kill,” Foreman said, making a stabbing motion. “When you’re trying to kill, you don’t stop at one. You keep going until you get it done.
“The state says there are no defensive wounds. What happened is a surprise to everyone there, which is why there was no warning given by Justin Ellis. Under the circumstances, that’s not premeditated.”
In his rebuttal, Boyer reaffirmed that Snyder knew right from wrong on May 24, 2018.
“Ladies and gentleman, the defendant himself believed and testified he understood right from wrong on May 24,2018,” Boyer said. “It is the defendant’s burden to show his mental illness is so severe, he couldn’t control his behavior. There is no evidence to that.”
The jury began deliberations at 3:55 p.m.