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Convicted killer loses appeal in 2013 shooting of Richland friend

By Kristin M. Kraemer Tri-City Herald

A Richland man who helped kill his friend on the Fourth of July in 2013 tried to get his conviction reversed by claiming his lawyer was ineffective.

John C.I. Young said defense attorney John Crowley failed to ask to suppress his confession and allowed it to be admitted as evidence.

Young argued that prosecutors had to present independent evidence of each element of the crime against Joshua Snapp, and would not have been able to prove premeditation to the jury without the video of the confession.

But a three-judge panel of the Washington Court of Appeals ruled against Young last week, saying he failed to show a reason why the confession shouldn’t be admitted.

Crowley had agreed to the videotaped interview being admitted because he wanted to use parts of it to bolster his case, he said.

Laurel H. Siddoway, who wrote the appellate opinion, pointed out that Crowley quoted from the interview to further his theory of the case.

Crowley told jurors in his closing that Young – “sensitive,” “frozen” and “tripping out” – fired at Snapp, but likely missed him.

“It appears from his closing argument that Mr. Young’s trial lawyer believed his client’s videotaped interview would advance that argument,” Siddoway wrote.

Young did not testify at his trial in Benton County Superior Court. He was convicted in April 2014 of first-degree murder.

Now 21, he is housed at Clallam Bay Corrections Center on a 31-year sentence.

A state Department of Corrections spokeswoman said his earliest release date is Jan. 24, 2044.

Co-defendant Joshua H. Hunt is serving his 23-year, four-month sentence at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center in Connell.

Hunt was convicted of second-degree murder with a firearm because two jurors voted against a first-degree verdict.

Hunt initially notified the court that he intended to appeal the conviction, but he never filed a brief with the Court of Appeals.

Prosecutor Andy Miller said he is feeling good now that Young’s guilty verdict was affirmed.

“A lot of cases have a lot of issues for appeal, and there is really the only one issue here,” Miller said of Young’s case.

“If you read the opinion, it shows a good summary of all of the evidence,” Miller added. “A lot of that credit goes to the Richland Police Department investigation, and the prosecution. It just didn’t leave room for many appellate arguments, so it’s nice to be rewarded for that.”

Hunt and Young believed Snapp, 17, was a thief and a confidential informant and wanted to confront him on July 4, 2013.

The two took Snapp to a secluded spot off Beardsley Road near Horn Rapids and smoked marijuana, before Hunt stood up and shot once into Snapp’s chest.

Hunt, in his own trial, claimed Young then fired two shots into Snapp’s head.

Young initially denied shooting Snapp, putting all of the blame on Hunt. He eventually admitted to Richland detectives 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.

Snapp was shot three times, once in the chest and twice in the head.

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

Miller told the court that investigators and prosecutors believed Hunt was more culpable in planning and carrying out the murder, even though he was convicted of the reduced charge.

But Miller also noted how Young had two felony convictions on his record before the murder that warranted a longer prison sentence for him.

Young had been offered a deal for second-degree murder, but he declined the offer and opted to take his case to trial.

Kristin M. Kraemer: 509-582-1531, @KristinMKraemer

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