Kelowna, British Columbia
News outlets reported a jury found Neil Snelson guilty of manslaughter in the death Nelson's Jennifer Cusworth more than two decades ago.
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 October 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 and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
It took two trials and nearly 22 years for the case and the jail doors to close on Jennifer Cusworth's killer, but it will only be 21 months before his release.
Neil George Snelson, 48, was sentenced to 11 years on September 16, 2015, in Kamloops Supreme Court. Since he was detained in 2009, Snelson accumulated nine years and three months while in custody.
Cusworth's family and Snelson's supporters packed a courtroom to hear Justice Dev Dley announce his sentence, which drew gasps and shock from Cusworth's family and friends.
In a previous trial, Snelson received 15 years.
That is garbage. The judge calls a higher sentence revenge. No, it's justice. The justice system is badly flawed.
Cusworth's mother Jean said outside the courtroom.