BC jury finds man guilty of Japanese exchange students murder

BC jury finds man guilty of Japanese exchange student\s murder
Schneider guilty of murder – Vernon News
The mother of murdered Japanese student Natsumi Kogawa expressed relief and gratitude after a B.C. Supreme Court jury found William Schneider guilty of second-degree murder Friday. 

"People listened. People understood you. It wasn't your fault," Kogawa said, in tears, through her interpreter outside the courtroom. 

He said he panicked, he made poor decisions, suggesting he was a homeless man with a drug addiction. A pathologist, Dr. Carol Lee, could not determine a cause of death. She said there was no bruises, injuries or DNA evidence linking Schneider to Kogawas death.

Over the course of the two-week trial, the court heard sordid details of the condition in which Kogawa, 30, was found dead in Vancouver's West End two years ago.

Kogawa, 30, was found stuffed in a suitcase and dumped in the hedges on a Vancouver property in the West End in September 2016. Court heard Kogawa, 112 pounds, was naked with her arms and legs folded in a fetal position.

Her body was found hidden in a suitcase outside Gabriola Mansion, a historic building on Davie Street.

The discovery was made three weeks after she went missing, when Schneider's brother, Warren Schneider Jr., tipped off police.

Kogawas mother travelled from Japan and braved weeks of graphic testimony, seeking justice for her child. She was in tears in the front row of the courtroom when the verdict was read.

RCMP arrested William Schneider, 51, in Vernon, B.C., on Sept. 28, 2016 — the same day they found Kogawa's body. 

A three-week trial began last month and deliberations started Tuesday just before noon. More than 30 witnesses were called and disturbing evidence was shown, including autopsy photos.

During the trial, Schneider pleaded guilty to the charge of interfering with human remains or offering an indignity to a dead body as lawyers were set to begin their final arguments.

Due to the sensitive and/or legal subject matter of some of the content on globalnews.ca, we reserve the ability to disable comments from time to time.

Crown counsel Geordie Proulx said the jury made the right decision, noting the trial was particularly hard on the Crown witnesses and the family of the deceased. 

I wasnt surprised with the verdict. I believed it would be the verdict [all] along,” Geordie Proulx, Crown counsel, told Global News.

"We had the death of a young woman not associated in any way with any criminal lifestyle and she's found dead in a suitcase on the grounds of a mansion — if that's not enough to make it difficult, I don't know what is," Proulx said. 

Kogawa, who was on a student visa, came to Canada in May 2016. Autopsy results revealed traces of anti-anxiety medication in her system.

The count of second-degree murder comes with a mandatory life sentence, with parole eligibility to be determined. The count of interfering with human body comes with a maximum five-year sentence.

Accused William Schneider, 51, was found guilty of the second-degree murder of Japanese student Natsumi Kogawa on Friday.

Emiko Kogawa attended every day of the trial. Through an interpreter she said she wanted people to see her daughter Natsumi as a caring, positive person.

A pathologist told the jury during the trial that she couldn’t determine a cause of death and there were no bruises, injuries or DNA evidence linking Schneider to the death of the Japanese exchange student.

"She was open to everybody, very curious. She always wanted to learn more and had big dreams."

The body of the missing student was found on the grounds of an empty heritage mansion in Vancouver’s west end shortly after she was reported missing in September 2016. (CKNW)

The mother and daughter spoke frequently, with Natsumi encouraging her mother to visit Vancouver, which she described as a beautiful city where "she was surrounded by wonderful people."

In their last conversation, Kogawa said her daughter encouraged her to go to bed because it was late in the evening in Japan. 

A B.C. Supreme Court jury has found William Schneider guilty of the second-degree murder of 30-year-old Natsumi Kogawa two years ago.

Asked what she would like to say to her daughter today, Kogawa said "Watch us from heaven."

At the end of the evidence portion of the trial, Schneider pleaded guilty to a charge of interfering with human remains.

It is a priority for CBC to create a website that is accessible to all Canadians including people with visual, hearing, motor and cognitive challenges.

A former Vernon man has been found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Japanese exchange student Natsumi Kogawa.

The jury found William Victor Schneider, 51, guilty of murder despite him entering a last-minute guilty plea to interfering with human remains. 

Police found Kogawa's naked body stuffed into a suitcase on the grounds of a vacant mansion on Sept. 28, 2016. She had been reported missing three weeks earlier.

When surveillance images of Schneider and Kogawa at a Vancouver mall were made public, he fled to Vernon.

He was camping in Polson Park when he told his brother where Kogawa's body could be found. He was arrested by RCMP the same day Vancouver police located her remains.

Emiko Kogawa, Natsumi's mother, broke down in court and said through an interpreter the ordeal has been very difficult for the family.