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Accused in Cusworth case appears in court

Neil Snelson was arrested in 2009 on the charge of first-degree murder and when he appeared for the start of six weeks of legal proceedings Monday, he showed the impact of the time that's passed.

A noticeably thinner and greyer version of the Kelowna man who was arrested in the 1993 cold case murder of Jennifer Cusworth, sat before the court as lawyers argued for evidence they’d like to have brought forward during the trial.

There is a publication ban on this portion of the process, which is called a voir dire, and it’s expected to last around two weeks, said Crown counsel Iain Currie.

Once the evidence is squared away, a one- to two- day jury selection is scheduled to start Sept. 12.

One of the more unique aspects of the process is that jury candidates will be vetted by previously selected jurors.

“The first two jurors will take their place…and then they will decide yes or no,” said Currie, adding he and the defence will have the option to challenge.

“Then we will start the trial as soon as the jury is selected,” said Currie.

He did not say why that unusual process is being used to select jurors.

The trial is expected to last about four weeks, and, at this point, around 47 witnesses are expected to take the stand, on behalf of the Crown.

It’s likely to be a closely watched and well attended process. Friends and family of Cusworth have been vigilant about keeping a spotlight on the crime, since Oct. 17, 1993 when the 19-year-old’s body was found on Swamp Road.

Although there were no arrests for 16 years, parents Jean and Terry Cusworth made an annual plea that their daughter’s killer come forward and they, along with a healthy support network, have attended all previous legal proceedings.

The family has decided not to speak with media until the trial is over.

 

kmichaels@kelownacapnews.com

 

 

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