Kelowna man charged in 1993 killing changing lawyers

Kelowna man Neil George Snelson is in need of a new lawyer.

Neil George Snelson is in need of a new lawyer.

The man charged with the 1993 killing of Jennifer Cusworth made his first appearance in a Kamloops courtroom Monday and those assembled learned he’s seeking new legal counsel.

Lawyer Wade Jenson had represented Snelson since his 2009 arrest, and even saw him through the recent appeal of his 2011 conviction for manslaughter and the venue change that moved the trial out of Kelowna. That last court process is what put Jenson in the position of no longer being able to represent Snelson.

“I regrettably informed Mr. Snelson I had to withdraw my services,” said Jenson, explaining that his Kelowna practice is too busy for him to take leave to Kamloops for a month.

“I’m continuing to assist him as he finds new counsel.”

No word on who Snelson’s new lawyer will be, just yet, but the change in counsel will likely have scheduling implications.

Crown counsel Sarah Firestone appeared in court Monday and said she had no information on when Snelson’s upcoming trial would be scheduled, although she said that he will be back in a Kamloops courtroom May 26.

Snelson was granted an appeal last December  when the Court of Appeal ruled that the trial judge erred by showing the jury a portion of video where Snelson can be heard telling a police officer that he hadn’t yet decided how he was going to plead to the charges he was facing.

Jenson appealed the judge’s decision to show that portion of video evidence, noting it was prejudicial.

Jennifer Cusworth, 19, was found in October 1993, beaten and strangled in a ditch off Swamp Road.

The case went cold for 15 years, until police arrested Snelson, now 47,  in 2009.

DNA evidence revealed he had sex with the teen the night she died.

He was sentenced to 15 years for manslaughter.

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