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Man convicted in Kelowna cold case gets new trial

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – BC’s highest court has ordered a new trial for a man convicted of manslaughter in a 1993 killing that remained a cold case for nearly two decades.

Neil Snelson was convicted two years ago in the death of Jennifer Cusworth, a 19-year-old college student who was beaten and strangled to death in Kelowna in 1993.

Snelson was charged in 2009 after DNA evidence revealed he had sex with Cusworth the night she died after attending a house party.

The Crown presented the jury with a statement Snelson made to police, in which he repeatedly asserted his right to silence and at one point said he hadn’t decided whether he planned to plead guilty.

But the defence says the trial judge was wrong to allow the police statement into evidence and then allow the Crown to tell the jury Snelson’s comments to police indicated he was guilty.

The BC Appeal Court has ruled the police statement was inadmissible, and therefore the court is ordering a new trial on the manslaughter charge.