Man sentenced to life in prison in stabbing death

A DuBois man convicted of first-degree murder for the stabbing death of his girlfriend was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday in Clearfield County Court.

This sentence for Joseph Fields, 36, comes without a chance for parole.

According to testimony at the trial, police arrived at the residence in response to an open 911 call. After they knocked several times, a boy with blood on his clothing answered the door. He told officers that “he killed Mommy.”

The victim, Nicole Snyder, had suffered several stab wounds. EMS personnel responded quickly to the scene, but they were unable to save her.

Tuesday as the victim’s sister read from a prepared statement that detailed the damage done to their family, Fields showed no expression.

“You stole Nicole’s life,” Diana Holmes said as she held back tears. “We brought you into our family and lives. You repaid that by taking Nicki away from us forever.”

She went on to explain that Nicole was “a loving, dedicated mother.”

“You are not sorry at all for what you did,” she said.

When he was given the opportunity to address the court, he declined.

During the trial, Fields took the stand in his own defense admitting to the crimes. His attorney, Mike Marshall, explained this was not a “who done it” case but a situation where the jury would have to determine whether this was a first- or third-degree murder.

In his testimony, Fields outlined his version of the events that led to the death of Snyder in the early morning hours of Sept. 22, 2015. He said they argued for two hours after she accused him of cheating on her. Eventually she asked him to leave. He said he went to grab his knife that he always keeps with him and he planned on sleeping on the porch. The last thing he remembers is Snyder saying she was going to call her brother.

“I ended up stabbing her in the chest,” Fields said without any emotion.

He stated that she was kicking and screaming at him and they wrestled around as he stabbed her in the neck.

At this point, their 7-year-old child was awake, and the dog was going crazy, he said. Fields claimed he dialed 911 and handed the phone to Snyder. When the police pulled up to the duplex, he told the boy to answer the door, and Fields fled out a back door.

As to why he stabbed her, Fields stated, “I just snapped.”

He claimed he did not know she was dead until he received a text message from an aunt just before he surrendered to police. A manhunt to find him lasted about 15 hours until he was located in Penfield near the victim’s mother’s home.

In his closing arguments, District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr. reviewed the testimony of a doctor who said she suffered four stab wounds in the neck, and her windpipe had been severed.