A planned coroner’s inquest into the death of an inmate at Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre has been cancelled.
On Nov. 10, 2014, 20-year-old Dylan Levi Judd was found dead in a cell in the maximum-security provincial prison. An inquest into Judd's death was originally announced in 2015, when it was determined the public had an interest in being informed of the circumstances surrounding the death.
Subsequent investigation led to Nathaniel Jessup being charged with second-degree murder in connection with Judd's death. Jessup and Judd were cellmates at the time.
In June of 2019, following a nine-day trial in B.C. Supreme Court in Kamloops, Jessup was acquitted, with Justice Sheri Donegan ruling circumstantial evidence presented by the Crown did not rule out the possibility that Judd died by suicide.
Judd’s death was initially ruled a suicide before Jessup was charged in 2018. During the trial, the defence maintained Judd’s death was a suicide, with the burden of proof on the Crown to prove murder.
The court heard Judd died by asphyxiation. He was found in a bed in his cell covered in a blanket with a KRCC sweater tied in a tight knot around his neck. His arm positioning was apparently consistent with that of gravity.
Donegan said Judd had demonstrated suicidal behaviour on at least three previous occasions and noted the absence of a motive, with no identified issues between the two cellmates. Donegan said that absence of a suicide note, a conversation Judd had with his mother two days prior to his death and video footage of Jessup’s movements in the common area at KRCC were not enough to rule out suicide.
In addition, Donegan disagreed with the Crown’s suggestion that Judd could not have reasonably killed himself by tying the sweater around his neck. Donegan said that, on the contrary, an incarcerated person intent on taking one’s own life might consider it among limited options that would not bring attention to them.
Andy Watson, spokesman for the BC Coroners Service, said the chief coroner has determined the June 2019 criminal trial served to inform the public of the circumstances of Judd’s death and, therefore, there is no longer a need to hold an inquest for that purpose.
“As a result, the investigation into Judd's death will be concluded by way of a coroner's report,” Watson said.