A man accused in the slaying of a Japanese student has been found guilty of murder by a B.C. Supreme Court jury.
The verdict at the trial of William Schneider, 51, who was charged with the September 2016 second-degree murder of Nasumi Kogawa, 30, came following two days of deliberations by the jury in Vancouver.
Just before the Crown and defence delivered final submissions to the jury on Monday, Schneider pleaded guilty to the offence of interfering with the victim’s body. He’ll be sentenced for that offence at a later date.
Kogawa, who came to Canada in May 2016 on a student visa, was last heard from on Sept. 8, 2016, when she was seen on video footage buying vodka and chips and walking towards Stanley Park with Schneider, a man who she had befriend after meeting him in a library.
Schneider was carrying a tent. Court heard that he told his brother that he and Kogawa had planned to go to Stanley Park to have sex in the tent, but never made it.
Instead the two had some drinks and took drugs before she left for another engagement.
Her friends reported her missing and two weeks later her badly decomposed body was found in a suitcase on a property on Davie Street in Vancouver’s West End.
Kogawa’s naked body was in a fetal position in the wheeled suitcase, head down, with her arms across her chest and twigs, leaves and moss stuck to her skin.
An autopsy found traces of anti-anxiety medication in her system but the pathologist was unable to determine a cause of death.
The Crown’s theory was that while it wasn’t known exactly where the murder took place, Schneider had smothered her by placing his hand over her nose and mouth.
The prosecution pointed to a gesture that police say Schneider made when he was being interviewed in prison as evidence of the smothering. That interview was audiotaped but not videotaped.
Crown counsel Geordie Proulx also pointed out that there was evidence that the accused had phoned his wife in Japan and told her that “I did it” or “I killed her.”
The fact that Schneider placed the body in a suitcase and concealed it at the West End property was proof that he was trying to cover up his activities and foil the authorities, he told the jury.
Schneider’s lawyer pointed to the fact that the autopsy was unable to find a cause of death and argued that the Crown had not proven a homicide had occurred, let alone one at the hands of Schneider.
Joe Doyle admitted his client had done a “terrrible” thing by placing the body in a suitcase and leaving it the property but argued that Schneider had not caused Kogawa’s death.
He said Schneider, who did not testify at trial, had likely panicked after Kogawa died and didn’t know what to do.
Doyle noted that there was no evidence of any injuries to the victim which would have been expected if a struggle had occurred.
He also noted that the pathologist couldn’t rule out a number of causes of death, including cardiac arrhythmia, a seizure or a drug overdose.
with files from Postmedia
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