At issue in Kamloops trial: was inmate's death suicide or homicide?

Twenty-year-old Dylan Judd was found dead in his cell in Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre in November 2014. Nathaniel Jessup, now 33, is charged with second-degree murder

A young inmate found dead in his cell at Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre nearly five years ago had a red, prison-issued sweater tied around his neck, a judge has been told.

A KRCC guard uncovered the body of Dylan Levi Judd, 20, on Nov. 10, 2014. Judd’s death was initially believed by investigators to have been the result of suicide, but 33-year-old Nathaniel Jessup was charged last year with second-degree murder.

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Jessup’s trial before a B.C. Supreme Court judge alone began on Monday morning at the Kamloops Law Courts.

In her opening statement, Crown prosecutor Monica Fras said Judd and Jessup were locked in the cell they shared just before 10 p.m. the night before Judd’s body was found.

Dylan Judd
Dylan Levi Judd was found dead in a cell in Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre on Nov. 10, 2014.

The next morning, Fras said, a guard entered the cell after Judd failed to get out of bed.

“A guard found Mr. Judd on the bottom bunk bed, with his right foot sticking out at the bottom of a blanket,” she said. “The blanket covered the majority of Mr. Judd’s body right up past his eyebrows. The guard removed the blanket and discovered Mr. Judd was dead and that Mr. Judd had a KRCC-issued sweater tied around his neck.”

The issue at trial is expected to be Judd’s manner of death — suicide or homicide.

Defence lawyers will argue he killed himself, while Fras said prosecutors believe Jessup was responsible, noting he had “exclusive opportunity” to kill his cellmate.

A letter Judd wrote to his mother nine days before he was found dead is expected to be entered as evidence. Judd’s mother is also slated to testify about a phone call she had with her son two days before his death.

Police reports have also been admitted into evidence. They detail Judd’s troubles with the law and, potentially, his state of mind in the years leading up to his death. The reports indicate Judd was described by police as suicidal as recently as 2013.

In 2009, Judd underwent a mental-health evaluation at an Ontario hospital after threatening to kill himself by jumping into traffic, defence lawyer Marshall Putnam said. Four years later, Judd was arrested under Ontario’s Mental Health Act after police found him holding a knife to his throat, according to records entered as evidence at trial.

Prosecutors expect to close their 10-witness case early next week. Defence lawyers have not said whether they will call evidence.

Crown prosecutors are Monica Fras and Neil Wiberg, Defence counsel consists of Jeremy Jensen, Jay Michi and Marshall Putnam.Jessup was charged with an unrelated murder on the eve of his trial. On Friday, police announced he had been charged with second-degree murder and offering an indignity to a human body in connection with the August 2015 death of 58-year-old Katherine McAdam in Creston.

Jessup was arrested for Judd’s murder at the conclusion of a three-and-a-half-year sentence he served for a string of choking incidents involving children, as well as attacks on prison officials.

Jessup has been in custody since September 2015.


© Kamloops This Week


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