TORRINGTON -- The first day of Jamie Snyder’s first-degree trial featured the opening statements from both the defense and the prosecution, as well as first hand accounts of the events of May 24, 2018, that resulted in the death of Wade Erschabeck and placed Snyder behind bars.
Justin Ellis, the state’s first witness, is the sole eyewitness of what happened on that day. He told the court that he saw Snyder exit his vehicle and hurry towards the victim with a knife in his hand, which he plunged into the victim’s chest. Ellis said he and Erschabeck had been in a vehicle on their way to Gavin Martin’s house when they passed Snyder, who was driving a black truck. Snyder pulled a u-turn and followed them to the Martin house.
Ellis said Erschbeck exited the vehicle and was talking to Snyder through the passenger’s side window of Snyder’s truck for about 20 seconds. Ellis and Snyder exited their respective vehicle at the same time.
“As I got out of my vehicle, My. Snyder got out of his truck,” Ellis said. “I noticed the knife. He had a large, black knife. He was holding it. He had in his left hand. He hadn’t done anything yet, he had just gotten out and he had it in his left hand down by his waist.
“In that same moment, Mr. Snyder stepped between the vehicles and kind of lunged or sprinted towards Wade. Mr. Snyder walked between the vehicles to where Wade was standing, and he stabbed Wade in the chest twice.”
Ellis said Snyder then pointed the knife at him and warned him not to call the cops.
“It scarred me for life. I’m never going to forget it,” Ellis said of the incident.
The jury was selected during the morning session, and Goshen County Deputy Attorney Jeremiah Sandburg delivered the state’s opening statement to begin the afternoon session. Sandburg told the jury, which consists of 11 men and three women - two are alternates - that before the trial was over, it would present its case about what happened on May 24, 2018, where it happened, how it happened, why it happened and who was involved.
“At the end of this, we’ll ask why? Why did Jamie Snyder do this? We might not know exactly why, but we might hear from his friends who will say that the day or two before, Mr. Snyder said someone broke into his house and the stole title to his truck. He seemed to be convinced Wade Erschabeck had something to do with it. He was looking for him
“We’ll hear from (another witness, who spoke to Jamie Snyder the day before, and Jamie Snyder said exactly what he intended to do - stab him in the chest.”
Snyder’s defense attorney, Jonathon Foreman, did not deny that someone murdered Erschabeck, but contended there was only on witness who actually saw it happen.
“There is only one witness, Justin Ellis, who claims Mr. Snyder stabbed Wade Erschabeck,” Foreman said. “There were two others present. They will tell you they didn’t see anything happen. If you’re going to convict Jamie Snyder, you’re going to have to rely entirely on Justin Ellis.”
Foreman also told the jury that Snyder’s alleged motive - the theft of the truck title - is not a reason to murder someone.
“Another thing we have not mentioned – Jamie Snyder and Wade Erschabech were friends for a decade. Mr. Snyder denies killing his friend. The state’s theory is that Jamie stabbed Wade Erschabeck because of a truck title. Does that sound even rational to anyone, even if what the state says is true? A truck title has no value.
“The state is trying to show you motive, but I can think of reasons why people kill other people. None are good reasons. Maybe if you walk into your bedroom and find your spouse in bed with another person, that could be a motive.”
The proceedings will begin again at 8:30 Tuesday morning in the Goshen County Courthouse.