Jury finds Kelowna man guilty in death of Jennifer Cusworth
The man charged in the death of a L.V. Rogers graduate Jennifer Cusworth has been convicted of manslaugther in a Kamloops court Tuesday.
News outlets are reporting a jury found Neil Snelson guilty of manslaughter in the death Nelson’s Jennifer Cusworth more than two decades ago.
The jury reached its verdict shortly after 9 p.m. PT Tuesday.
Cusworth, a L.V. Rogers High School grad from Crescent Valley, was studying social work at Okanagan University College and went missing from a house party Kelowna on Oct.16, 1993.
Cusworth was never seen alive again. Her body was found in a ditch on Swamp Road, on the outskirts of Kelowna
The jury reached the verdict on the first day of deliberations in the re-trial.
Snelson had been found guilty of the manslaughter of Jennifer Cusworth in 1993.
However, the B.C. Appeal Court agreed in a unanimous decision to set aside the decision to convict Snelson of Kelowna and order a new trial.
The decision by the B.C. Appeal Court hinged on a statement made by Snelson during police questioning which he did not reply to the officers if he would plead guilty to the charge.
At trial, the Crown argued Snelson’s response that he hadn’t decided his plea was an indicationg of guilt, since an innocent person always say he wasn’t guilty.
The Crown urged the jury to come to the same conclusion.
But Snelson’s lawyer appealed, arguing the accused was merely asserting his right to silence, which cannot be used against him.
The B.C. Appeal Court agreed.
Snelson was one of the 150 people at the house party from which Cusworth disappeared.
According to the police, they had allegedly found DNA on an object at the murder scene matched with Snelson’s.
Fifteen years later improvements in DNA technology enabled investigators to find 43-year-old father of four. He was convicted in 2011 and sentenced to 15 years in prison.