Lawyer for Vernon man appealing murder sentence says trial judge made mistakes | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Lawyer for Vernon man appealing murder sentence says trial judge made mistakes

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October 19, 2020 - 4:39 PM

The appeal hearing for a Vernon man found guilty of murdering a Japanese exchange student in 2016 wrapped up today and is now waiting on a decision from the panel of three judges at the B.C. Court of Appeal.

In October 2018 William Victor Schneider was sentenced to life without parole for 14 years after a jury found him guilty of second-degree murder in connection with the death Natsumi Kogawa in 2016.

At a virtual court appearance Oct. 19, Schneider's lawyer Chris Nowlin told a panel of three judges via Zoom that the original judge in the trial had made errors largely concerning a question she answered from the jury about the definition of bodily harm. Nowlin said the question was ambiguous and should have been clarified.

"We are here today because nobody stopped and said 'let's go and ask one more time to ask that question,'" Nowlin said.

If Schneider's appeal is successful he could be granted a new trial.

Schneider was arrested in Vernon's Polson Park the day Kogawa's body was discovered at an abandoned mansion in Vancouver in September 2016. The 30-year-old student had been reported missing two weeks earlier. Kogawa's body was found in a suitcase and Schneider pleaded guilty to interfering with human remains days before his conviction for second-degree murder. The jury found Schneider had strangled or suffocated Kogawa.

The defence lawyer told the judges Schneider admitted to being present when Kogawa died but did not know why she died nor did he cause her death. He then panicked and made "a lot of very poor decisions."

The defence also pointed out the pathologist's evidence couldn't rule out a drug overdose or cardiac seizure and that hand gestures Schneider made to the police during interrogation were not on video.

The justices' decision will be made at a later date.


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