For Jean and Terry Cusworth, Saturday was not about remembering the night their daughter, Jennifer, died.
It was about remembering the 19 years she lived.
Jean and Terry were joined by about 40 others—which included the Cusworths’ friends and family, as well as Kelowna Mounties and lawyers who were involved in Jennifer’s case—at Okanagan College.
The Celebration of Life began with a smudging ceremony, then each guest shared memories and stories of Jennifer, who was killed in 1993.
Jean began by telling stories that brought laughter to the group.
According to Jean, when Jennifer was in her teens, she had a boyfriend who she wanted her mother to meet.
“I looked at him and said (to Jennifer), ‘Nice buns.’ She said, ‘Mom!’ I said, ‘Well he does.’
“Two weeks later he came for dinner. He was sitting at the table and said, ‘Mrs. Cusworth, I understand you like my buns.’ I said, ‘Jennifer!’ She said, ‘Got you, mom.'”
Another story Jean told was an example of how her daughter took after her.
One night, while at a bar with her daughter, she noticed the bartender come over to Jennifer and say, “How are you doing, ice water?”
“I thought: Why are you calling my daughter, ice water?” said Jean.
It turned out, Jennifer would always have one alcoholic drink at the bar, and then switch to glasses of ice water for the rest of the night.
Ironically, Jean did the exact same thing growing up, but never told Jennifer about it.
Terry also told stories and read a letter his daughter wrote for him.
In October, 2011, Neil Snelson was found guilty of manslaughter in Jennifer’s death.
At the time, Jean said she was “extremely disappointed” with the verdict.
“I believe the jury did the best they could, but I believe their efforts fell short of the justice Jennifer deserved,” she said in 2011.
In January, Snelson’s lawyer Wade Jenson filed an appeal, aiming to overturn the verdict.