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Despite acquittal, Snider may be tried again in Penich case

By JEREMY KIRK | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 22, 2003

SEOUL — Although she was acquitted Thursday, a 21-year-old American woman could face trial again on charges she stomped to death her exchange-student friend.

Kenzi Noris Elizabeth Snider will not be allowed to leave South Korea, said her attorney, Om Sang-ik.

Snider was cleared on a charge she unintentionally killed Jamie Lynn Penich, 20, of Derry Township, Pa., on March 18, 2001.

Penich died after she suffocated from being stomped on with shoes in a motel in Itaewon.

Prosecutor Kim Jong-hyong told Om he plans to file an appeal said Om. Under Korean law, a prosecutor can appeal an acquittal, unlike U.S. law in which the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prevents a person from facing trial on the same charge twice, often called double jeopardy.

No physical evidence linked Snider to the crime. Although she confessed, the confession — taken by Army CID agents and an FBI agent in the United States — was inadmissible in Korean court, said Chief Judge Kim Nam-tae.

The Seoul High Court will hear the case with a new prosecutor and judge panel, Om said.

If Snider is acquitted on the appeal, a prosecutor could take the case to the Korean Supreme Court restarting the process .

Penich and Snider were both exchange students in Taegu. They were in Seoul with other exchange students sightseeing the weekend Penich was killed.

Soon after the killing Snider returned to the United States. Initially, investigators focused on U.S. soldiers, who frequented the Itaewon bar where Snider and Penich spent the night of St. Patrick’s Day. Evidence and an eyewitness pointed to a white male suspect with size 9 or 10 Skecher-brand shoes.

Investigators dismissed at least five U.S. soldiers after they could not be linked to the killing. A CID investigator said he noticed inconsistencies in Snider’s statements and traveled with an FBI agent in February 2002 to Huntington, W.Va., to question her.

After three days of questioning, Snider said she killed Penich after the latter made sexual advances, according to FBI extradition papers filed by the U.S. District Attorney’s office in Charleston, W.Va. Snider was extradited to South Korea in December 2002.

Choe Song-won contributed to this report.


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