LEWISBURG — A guilty plea was entered Friday by the man charged with killing a yoga instructor in Union County four years ago.
Joel Snider admits to the killing, but claims he’s mentally ill. Either way, he’s off to prison for a long time.
Snider was supposed to go to trial later this year for the murder of a yoga instructor from New Berlin. Instead, he pleaded guilty but mentally ill in Union County Court.
The judge sentenced Snider to 30 to 60 years behind bars.
It’s been more than four years since Joel Snider was arrested for the murder of a well-known yoga teacher from New Berlin. And now, Snider finally admitted he was responsible for the death of 70-year-old Joe Fenton, also known as Sudharman.
“It’s a tragedy. I’m very sorry for what has happened,” Snider said.
Snider pleaded guilty but mentally ill to third degree murder and burglary.
Snider admits to shooting Sudharman several times at his yoga studio in New Berlin in July of 2010.
Snider said he is a peaceful person who loves yoga and meditation but blames what happened on his mental illness. He said he suffers from paranoia, anxiety and schizophrenia.
He said, “When I shot Sudharman thought I was saving the earth. I thought he was a demon who was trying to steal my soul.”
“Do you still feel that way?”
“No, that was delusion. That was mental illness,” Snider said.
Sudharman’s sister, Mary Faint said she does not believe mental illness is an excuse for murder.
“I’ve worked with paranoid-schizophrenia, and I know it’s a serious illness. However, people can control their behavior and he knew exactly what he was doing,” Faint said.
Faint addressed her brother’s killer in court.
“I forgive him, I’m sure my brother Joe forgives him, that’s number one. We do hope that he asks God for his forgiveness because what he did was a horrendous crime,” Faint said.
In court the judge said he knows Sudharman’s spirit is still alive because the Integral Yoga Center is still up and running, even without its former leader.
Joel Snider was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in jail.
“I’m concerned that the sentence is not going to address the reason that this situation happened, which is mental illness,” Snider said.
The judge ruled that Joel Snider can have access to a vegetarian diet, his yoga mat and religious materials while in jail, which Snider said will all help control his mental illness.