The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


April 24, 2014

Grandma slayer gets 20-60 years

MIDDLEBURG — Before Joshua M. Snook was sentenced Wednesday to a state prison term of 20 to 60 years for fatally stabbing his grandmother and assaulting his grandfather in their Beaver Township home, several relatives met privately with defense attorneys who read to them Snook’s description of what happened that morning of Feb. 17, 2013.

Snook, 28, of Sunbury, chose not to address Snyder County Court directly, but allowed his co-defense attorney, Rachel Wiest Benner, to read a statement on his behalf as eight family members, including his grandfather, Dale Snook, listened.

“No apology, no sorry would or could ever suffice,” the statement said.

Snook described being “devastated” by his actions that led to the death of his beloved grandmother and “best friend,” Bonnie J. Snook, 71, who along with her husband, Dale, raised him.

“In the past year I have thought about this over and over. I don’t understand how this happened.”

He was charged with fatally slashing his grandmother’s throat and inflicting a severe arm wound on his grandfather after breaking into their home early that morning while searching for a gun and ammunition he planned to use to kill Aaron Brannon, a 28-year-old Sunbury man he had argued with in a Northumberland County bar the previous evening.

In exchange for the guilty pleas to third-degree murder, felony conspiracy to commit murder and aggravated assault, Snook received a 20- to 60-year prison term. Another condition of the plea is that he will be allowed to correspond with his wife, Jennifer, 30, after she is sentenced next month on a no-contest plea to conspiring to commit murder.

Jennifer Snook faces five to 15 years in state prison under the terms of her plea deal.

The couple was apprehended leaving the scene shortly after the assault in the elderly Snooks’ home. Joshua Snook’s 9-year-old son, who had been staying with Bonnie and Dale Snook, was in the car with his father and stepmother when they were stopped by police.

Union-Snyder Judge Michael T. Hudock said he took into account the victim impact statements provided by relatives, including Jay Snook, Joshua Snook’s father and Bonnie Snook’s son, and the effect the killing has had on the family.

“You will for the rest of your life live with the realization that you killed the woman who raised you,” Hudock said. “The closest person to you in your life.”

The judge pointed out the “bitter irony” that by slaying his grandmother, Snook has placed his own young son in the same situation of being raised by someone else.

Some family expressed concern that the plea deal was too harsh and others bore more responsibility, but Hudock dismissed them. In fact, he said, the deal was unusual because the sentence was below the mitigated range and Snook could have faced many more years in prison.

“No amount of time will bring back” Bonnie Snook, he said.

District Attorney Michael Piecuch said one factor in granting the plea was Snook’s statement of the assault provided in private to the family.

“Him giving that statement to the family was the only gift he had to give,” Piecuch said, declining to disclose what was shared with Snook’s father, grandfather and six other family members prior to Wednesday’s hearing. “It explained some unanswered questions that the investigation was unable to explain.”

He added: “I’m sure it provided no solace for the loss.”

In addition to prison time, court costs and fees, Joshua Snook was ordered by the court to pay restitution in the amount of $14,253 to N.H. Rigle Insurance Agency of Beaver Springs and $500 to Dale Snook.


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