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Kamloops News

Delays in Snelson manslaughter re-trial

Neil Snelson
Image Credit: Global Okanagan

KAMLOOPS – A Kelowna man awarded a new trial for manslaughter—scheduled this time in Kamloops—is still waiting to set a re-trial date as he now searches for a new lawyer. 

Neil Snelson said his trial lawyer, Wade Jenson—also the lawyer who argued the new trial should be moved to Kamloops—is no longer representing him.

Snelson was convicted in October 2011 in the 1993 death of Jennifer Cusworth, 19, and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The college student was beaten and strangled to death in Kelowna in 1993.

After his trial concluded, lawyers argued a police interview from the first trial biased the jury. In the interview, Snelson was asked by police how he would plead at trial. The B.C. Court of Appeal said it was unfair for the Crown to use his answers in argument and for jurors to consider his answers as evidence.

A second trial was ordered and moved to Kamloops after the Kelowna jury pool was considered likely biased by extensive media coverage.

Crown prosecutor Sarah Firestone said today delays are causing a "great deal of concern" for the 21-year-old case. She wants the trial scheduled for this autumn.

But Snelson expects the delay should be even longer because a new lawyer must have time to prepare his case.

Snelson was held in custody since his arrest in late 2009. At that time, courts considered every day spent in custody prior to conviction as two days of time already served. That's no longer a standard rule but it's unclear if it still applies. If it does, and he spends five years in custody prior to trial, then—if he is convicted—the courts could consider that ten years of his sentence already served.

He has been ordered to find a lawyer by May 20.

To contact a reporter for this story, email, or call 250-319-7494. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

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