PORT ORCHARD — William Benson Black, 28, was arraigned Monday in Kitsap County Superior Court on a charge of first degree murder following the shooting death of 28-year-old Trent Snyder in Suquamish on Friday, Feb. 22.
Entering the courtroom, Black led the group of inmates clad in jumpsuits, handcuffed to one another, each set to stand before the judge that afternoon. Black was first and kept his responses to “yes” and “no” answers when addressed by Judge Michelle Adams.
Seated in a row of benches near the back of the courtroom, a crowd of Snyder’s friends and family watched as Black was read the charge against him.
For the crime with which he’s been charged, Black faces the possibility of a lifetime in prison — the maximum sentence for murder in the first degree. Despite the gravity of his situation, Black appeared largely unfazed as he stood before the judge. It was not his first time appearing in court.
In 2012, Black pleaded guilty to charges of domestic violence and violating a no-contact order. Black’s criminal history was also listed on the court documents from 2012. Domestic violence, eluding a police vehicle, burglary and previous violations of protection orders were all present on the documents. His 2012 conviction bore a stipulation that he must relinquish his firearms and also stated that he was prohibited from owning, possessing or using firearms until a court had restored his right to do so. Despite this fact, Black is alleged to have used a .40-caliber handgun to murder Snyder last Friday.
A statement of probable cause from the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office paints the scene of Snyder’s final moments. Black had become upset after reading conversations between his girlfriend and Snyder on the woman’s phone, police said. Both Black and Snyder have fathered children with the woman and the three had even shared a meal together earlier in the day, accompanied by their children. Hoping to resolve the conflict, the woman invited Snyder over to the residence in Suquamish in order to talk things over, according to the filing.
“William knew Trent was coming over and went into the garage where he stores his clothing in a dresser,” the statement reads. “He returns into the house and is wearing different clothing … William then goes outside on the front deck to drink a beer.”
“[The woman] sees Trent’s blue Lexus passenger vehicle pass by her house … she then sees William running from the front porch.”
After watching Black run from the porch, the woman said she heard a gunshot. Exiting the house, she called out to Snyder, telling him to leave. Snyder was out of the vehicle as Black continued his approach. The woman reportedly heard another gunshot. Snyder was shot through the driver’s side window and door, the report says. When law enforcement arrived at the scene, officers found Snyder, unresponsive inside the vehicle, bleeding from the mouth. Medics arrived at 9:52 p.m. and attempted life-saving efforts but they were ultimately unsuccessful and Snyder was pronounced dead. According to the statement, Black had fled the scene shortly after the shooting.
Investigators recovered three spent .40-caliber shell casings near Snyder’s vehicle, as well as three unfired cartridges that were also found at the scene. When officers finally arrested Black after he fled to Kingston, they discovered a .40-caliber Ruger SR40 tucked into his waistband.
After standing before the judge, Black was again placed in handcuffs and led out of the courtroom. Moments after he was led away, a large group of the audience stood up and filed out the door. Snyder’s friends and family lingered in the hallway outside the courtroom, some were crying and others embraced one another.
Kiana Laurion was one of the faces in the hallway. Laurion had dated Snyder when the two were younger and she described him as her “first love.”
“We were friends from junior high, all the way through,” Laurion said, her voice noticeably hoarse from crying just moments earlier. “He was just a good dude; he was always in trouble but he was still a good dude.”
Laurion painted a picture of a man who had struggled with addiction in the past but had been working to better himself.
“It was very clear, he just cared about being with his daughter,” she said. “He was a great dad.”
“Will deserves everything he gets,“ Laurion said, explaining that she wished to see retribution for Snyder’s murder.
Outside the courthouse Cory G. Smith was inconsolable, as he paced along the sidewalk, seemingly overcome with emotion. Smith transitioned between expressing his rage at Black and his sorrow at the loss of Snyder, whom he called his best friend.
Smith said Snyder had been working to stay clean, and that he had been helping him to get back on his feet.
“I was there step through step with Trent,” Smith said. “I would take time off of work, I was making sure he made his court appointments, I was making sure he got to his evaluations.”
According to Smith, Snyder’s mother even entrusted him to handle his money, in order to ensure that he wasn’t using the funds to purchase drugs.
“She didn’t want him using the money to get high, so she would send me the money and I would give it to him,” Smith said. “He was doing so good, he was so happy to have his daughter by him.”
The night of the murder, Smith said he had been waiting to meet up with Snyder at a bowling alley in Silverdale. After telling him that he needed to run an errand before meeting up, Snyder said he would call back later, Smith recalled. But Snyder’s call never came. The errand, Smith said, was a stop over at the Suquamish residence where he was later killed.
Black is being held on $1 million bail for murder in the first degree. He is due to appear in court again at 9 a.m. on March 13, a trial date has been set for 9 a.m. on April 15.