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Jury revisits 1993 Kelowna crime scene through grim images

Video footage of Jennifer Cusworth’s body being pulled from the ditch where she was found Oct. 17, 1993, offered jurors a grim view of the teenager’s final moments, in day two of the first degree murder trial for Neil Snelson.

Stiff from rigor mortis, the 19-year-old was filmed face down in a ditch, in a few inches of water.

Her long hair was slung over her bruised face.

A black pair of pants, two black camisoles, an animal print blouse as well as brown fringed boots—all appeared intact, RCMP investigator Gregory Shaigec, told the camera person who was cataloguing the scene.

Nearby, the now-retired officer testified Thursday, investigators found a two-by-four with a hair stuck to it, a belt and a beer can.

Cusworth’s body, he said, was then transferred to the Kelowna General Hospital morgue, where it awaited further examination.

Howard Kalyn, an expert in biological evidence who was called in to testify by Crown counsel Iain Currie, then had his expertise put to use.

Kalyn worked at the RCMP forensics lab in Vancouver from May 1977 to Dec. 30, 2005, and  specialized in collecting samples of blood or semen.

On Oct. 20, 1993, he had first contact with the Cusworth case, he told the court Thursday.

Vaginal and rectal swabs taken in those early days after the body was found, yielded the evidence he was looking for.

In both cavities, semen was present.

On the crotch of her pants, more sperm was also present.

An inspection of Cusworth’s mouth, however, did not yield DNA evidence.

All the samples collected over the course of that examination were then sent away to Edmonton, as DNA cataloguing was still a new science to Vancouver.

Following the initial exam, Kalyn did not lose track of the case.

From 1993 to 1994, he testified, blood samples collected from Kelowna men were sent to his office, sampled and created a DNA profile.

Those samples, testified Shaigec, were collected at a local medical lab by individuals who consented to a police request.

A match to the DNA found on Cusworth’s body, wasn’t found until 16 years later.

Snelson was arrested in October of 2009.

 

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