Richland teen sentenced to 31 years

John C.I. Young, 19, appears in court to be sentenced for first-degree murder for the July 4 shooting of 17-year-old Joshua Snapp.
John C.I. Young, 19, appears in court to be sentenced for first-degree murder for the July 4 shooting of 17-year-old Joshua Snapp. Tri-City Herald

The father of a Richland teen shot to death July 4 said Friday that he'd be happy with a lighter sentence for the convicted killer, but only if he were told the truth about that morning's events.

Chris Snapp faced John C.I. Young and asked the 19-year-old to look into his heart, do what was right and give some peace to the Snapp family.

"This is truly the most important thing to me. I want to know what happened to my son (Joshua Snapp), and this is my last chance to hear from one of the men that was out there," Chris Snapp said.

But when given the chance to further explain, Young stood and simply told the Benton County Superior Court judge, "I have nothing at this time."

Later, after being handed a 31-year sentence, Young looked back at the Snapp family and friends and shook his head before walking out of the courtroom. The victim's loved ones gasped in apparent shock at the gesture.

Young's sentencing came a week after jurors returned a guilty verdict for first-degree murder with a firearm. The jury agreed he acted with premeditated intent and must "suffer the consequences" for his involvement.

Snapp was shot three times after he went with Joshua H. Hunt and Young to a secluded spot off Beardsley Road near Horn Rapids.

Hunt and Young believed Snapp was a thief and a confidential informant and wanted to confront him.

The three teens smoked marijuana before Hunt stood up and shot once into Snapp's chest. Hunt, in his trial earlier this year, claimed Young then fired two shots into Snapp's head.

Young initially denied shooting Snapp, putting all of the blame on Hunt and saying he was afraid the gun would be turned on him. He eventually admitted to Richland police investigators that he shot his friend once in the head because it was the humane thing to do because the teen wouldn't stop twitching from the first two gunshot wounds.

Doctors said Snapp could have survived the chest wound if the teens had gotten immediate help.

Defense attorney John Crowley argued during trial that there was no evidence showing the bullet fired by Young hit the teen. He suggested Young shot the "pristine" bullet found near Snapp's head, or one that was discovered in the sand where Hunt had parked the car that morning.

Hunt, 20, is at Washington Corrections Center in Shelton on a 23-year, four-month sentence. His jury returned a verdict for second-degree murder with a firearm because they couldn't agree on the higher charge.

Chris Snapp said Friday that he feels like Hunt got lucky, but that Young's jury got it right and brought some justice for his family.

The father became emotional as he showed a framed portrait of his son to Judge Bruce Spanner and Young. He then grabbed a shirt, said it recently was given to him in a box of Joshua's clothes, and explained that he keeps the box sealed so he can keep smelling his son.

Chris Snapp said he doesn't agree with Young's statement to police that the killer should get "a life for a life," because nothing is ever going to bring his son back.

He said the fact that Hunt already has filed a notice of appeal, and Young likely will do the same, shows him that nobody wants to take responsibility for what they did and they're only thinking about themselves.

Crowley asked for a sentence at the bottom of the range, saying 25 years and 10 months still would be more than what Hunt got.

Prosecutor Andy Miller told Spanner he believes that Hunt was more culpable in planning and carrying out the murder. But a number of factors weigh in favor of a significantly longer prison term for Young, Miller said, and the family and police supported his recommendation of 26 years along with the mandatory five years for using a gun.

"As one of the detectives pointed out, two wrongs don't make a right," he said.

Young has two felony convictions on his record that add time to the standard range for murder. Hunt didn't have a criminal history.

Also, after Hunt's trial, the Snapp family gave Miller permission to negotiate a second-degree murder plea with Young so they'd be spared from going through another trial. Young declined the offer.

"I can't imagine losing a child. I can't imagine losing a child at the actions of another," Miller said. "I can't imagine sitting through a trial seeing photographs of your child's life ended, when it didn't have to end that way."

Aimee Snapp-Reutercrona told Young he not only took her son from her, but from his siblings Britanni, Jared and Breanna and his young nephew.

"I just wish I'd seen some remorse from you. It tears me apart that it's not a big thing to you," Snapp-Reutercrona said. "Look at what you did to me, look at what you did to my family, and it will never go away."

Crowley objected to the family speaking directly to Young instead of facing the bench, but Spanner overruled the request and allowed them to continue.

Breanna Snapp, Joshua's older sister, said she's known Young for a long time and this killing shows how drugs can change people. She thought she would be happy to see her brother's killers go away, but said she only feels relief that the court process is over.

"Who are you to take someone's life?" Breanna Snapp asked. "And I'm sorry, but if this wasn't a planned murder, I know for a fact that John Young would have lost it. He would have lost it and he would have pointed that gun at R.J."

Hunt often went by the nickname R.J.

She recognized that her family and Young's family have been destroyed, and that no one is at fault but Young and Hunt.

"My heart breaks for John Young, and I want them to know that. I'm very sorry that any of this ever happened," Breanna Snapp said. "I hope we can move forward. Just hold your family, get closer to them and be strong. That's all I can say."

Lori Saueressigcq spoke for the defense and said she knew Joshua Snapp and Young from their days at Chief Joseph Middle School, where she worked as attendance secretary.

Saueressig said "If Christ could take all the sins in the world that he never committed," surely Young will be forgiven. She was in tears as she begged Spanner to let her serve Young's sentence and "pay the price for these boys."

Spanner, who presided over the two-week trial, said he hoped Saueressig realized that the perpetrator must do the time.

Spanner said there clearly was a violation of trust and a friendship that was abused. He said the crime was certainly avoidable, and explained that he tried to find reasons to give Young less time but couldn't find any.

The judge said when he thinks of this case, "what comes to mind is a waste."

"An absolute waste. Three young lives," Spanner said. "Joshua Snapp, whatever potential he had, is gone. He'll never (again) be a son, a grandson, a brother."

Related stories from Tri-City Herald