Neil Snelson wasn’t sure how he was going to deal with the murder charge he was facing in the first few days following his arrest.
“Is it your intention to plead guilty then?” Sgt. Peter Tewfik asked Snelson early into a two-and-half hour interview, recorded Oct. 24, 2009.
“I haven’t made that decision yet,” replied Snelson. “I have to talk to my lawyer about what I’m going to do.”
Deferring an opportunity to make a statement until he consulted with his legal defence, Wade Jenson, was a common refrain for Snelson over the course of that lengthy interview, which jurors at the Kelowna man’s murder trial watched in court on Tuesday and Wednesday.
It wasn’t a matter of if the courts would use anything he said against him, he said he’d been advised by Jenson. It was merely a matter of how.
Although Snelson chose to offer neither a denial nor confession to Tewfik, Justice Alison Beames cautioned the jury Wednesday to not draw conclusions from his silence on the matter.
No person in Canada has an obligation to speak to police, so an inference of guilt cannot be drawn from choosing to exercise that right, she explained.
Snelson’s videotaped interview was a decidedly different change of pace, from the earlier half of the day where biological evidence was, once again, the focus.
Specifically being examined was Dr. Ron Roy’s 1993 autopsy.
Crown counsel called in Dr. William Currie, who had looked over autopsy notes at the behest of investigators in 2010.
Upon reviewing the file, Currie had narrowed in on a time of death.
“She died closer to the time she was seen alive than when she was dumped,” Currie testified.
Currie noted he was aware of the fact that Cusworth was last seen around 4 a.m., Oct. 16, 1993. She was found Oct. 17, 1993, at 9:30 a.m.
Currie made those conclusions about Cusworth’s time of death based on her body temperature, the ratio of alcohol in her vitreous fluid to the alcohol level in her blood—a sign of metabolism—and the level of rigor mortis.
Defence lawyer Grant Gray took issue with that finding, and tried to uncover whether it would be possible that Cusworth’s body would reach the same level of deterioration had the teenager drank throughout Saturday afternoon.
Currie said it was a possible scenario.
That said, Lynette Carney testified Wednesday that some time between 3 a.m. to 5 a.m., Cusworth was sitting on the patio of the Richter Street home where she was last seen, contemplating putting an end to her night of partying.
“She said she was going to walk home, it was only a couple of blocks away,” recalled Carney, who sparked a conversation with Cusworth earlier that night over the fact they were both from the Kootenays.
“I told her, this isn’t the Kootenays…we should get a cab.”
When Carney returned 15 to 30 minutes after that conversation, Cusworth was gone.
Carney had seen Cusworth several times throughout the night, both at the Bernard Avenue bar they’d been at and the after-party.
Once at the party, which she’d arrived at with Neil Snelson and two other friends, Carney spent much of her night in the kitchen with Cusworth’s friends Pam Coulombe and Faith.