Teen testifies he sold stolen revolver to murder suspect

Tri-City HeraldFebruary 19, 2014 

— A Pasco teen was looking to offload a stolen gun last summer when he agreed to an exchange for marijuana so he could have "a good time."

Emilio Elizondo testified Wednesday that he made the trade with Joshua H. Hunt weeks before the death of Joshua Snapp.

Prosecutors allege that Hunt was trying to get his hands on a gun to shoot Snapp because he believed the 17-year-old Richland teen was an informant and had stolen money and drugs from him.

Hunt, 19, is on trial in Benton County Superior Court for first-degree murder with a gun. The charge involves premeditated intent.

More than a half-dozen teens and young adults took the witness stand Wednesday and Hunt stared directly at each one, causing some friends or acquaintances to look a little nervous as they answered questions. Most of them referred to Hunt by his nickname, "R.J."

Prosecutors plan to rest their case this morning after four days of testimony.

Defense attorney Shane Silverthorn said he may only have two witnesses, and he expects one of those to be Hunt since "it is his right." Silverthorn also said that most of the people he would have called already testified.

The defense has suggested that Hunt had a diminished capacity to commit the crime because of excessive drinking and drug use when he allegedly killed Snapp. Silverthorn also has said his client may have been sleep deprived from partying all day and night with his friends at the river and in public parks.

Prosecutor Andy Miller told the court Wednesday he is proposing a second-degree murder option for the jurors to consider in case they believe Hunt was so drunk and high on marijuana, and possibly methamphetamines, that it affected his mental state.

The legal instructions will be finished with Judge Carrie Runge, then read to the jury before they begin deliberations.

All of Hunt's friends who've testified said they saw Hunt taking shots of hard liquor and smoking pot in the hours before Snapp's death, but none recall seeing him use meth or showing signs of being under the influence of the drug.

Austin Mayton of Richland, who met Hunt through smoking pot together, said Hunt was able to have a conversation at a late-night party on July 3 and he wasn't really worried about him.

"We all got really, really high, but I know they were able to control themselves," Mayton said. They would "be responsible, I guess you can say."

Hunt and co-defendant John C.I. Young allegedly took Snapp to a remote location near Richland's Beardsley Road and Horn Rapids at 5 a.m. under the guise they were going to smoke more pot.

Instead they confronted Snapp and told him to start praying before they pulled the trigger. He was shot twice in the head and once in the chest.

Richland police Detective Sgt. Kevin Berger testified he could not find any federal, state or local law enforcement agency that was using Snapp as an informant.

Gino Barajas, 16, told jurors that when his cousin, Elizondo, showed him a gun last June and said he wanted to get rid of it, he replied that he might know somebody who would want to buy it. Barajas said he was thinking of Hunt at the time.

Hunt came to Barajas' Richland home later that day and a group of friends packed into Hunt's car for the exchange.

Barajas -- who has known Hunt since fourth grade and was shaking Wednesday on the stand -- said his cousin and R.J. talked about prices before completing the sale.

Elizondo said he met Hunt a long time ago through his cousin, but they didn't really talk much. Elizondo said he told his cousin he wanted to get rid of the stolen revolver, and Barajas made the arrangements with Hunt.

"We were all hanging out and we all wanted to do something and I said, 'Hey, I got this gun. Do you know somebody who would want to buy it so we can have a good time, just hang out and smoke," the high school student testified.

Asked what he got in the trade, Elizondo replied: "Like, to be honest, I really don't know how much. I remember. He just gave me like $10 bucks of weed and like $90 bucks in money, something probably like that right there."

Barajas, whose family moved to Spokane, said he was in a car smoking weed with Hunt and Young when the two started talking about "what they would do to Josh and stuff like that, talking about bullets."

Hunt and Young discussed places they could shoot Snapp "where no one is around," and Young said he had a spot where he used to go shooting, Barajas testified.

"What were you thinking while this conversation was going on?" Miller asked.

"I was freaking out a little bit. ... I was in my mind thinking about other things, because I didn't know what was going on. I was high," Barajas said. "I really didn't want to be a part of that. I said, 'That's you guys,' but I really didn't want to be a part of it."

Barajas said he didn't actually tell the pair what he was thinking and got out of the car to head home.

Young has a March 10 trial date on the murder charge. Prosecutors said they will add the gun allegation.

Young's lawyer, John Crowley of Seattle, said in a separate hearing Wednesday that he has a federal trial starting March 24 and the start of Young's trial may need to move to early April.

-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; kkraemer@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer

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