No retrial for former Vernon man convicted of murdering Japanese student | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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No retrial for former Vernon man convicted of murdering Japanese student

Natsumi Kogawa
Image Credit: Find Natsumi Kogawa via Facebook

A former Vernon man convicted of killing a Japanese exchange student in 2016 has lost his right to a retrial at Canada's highest court.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled today, Oct. 7, that William Schneider would not be granted a retrial after being convicted for the second-degree murder of Japanese student Natsumi Kogawa in 2018, and his murder conviction would remain.

The court's decision overturns a ruling from the B.C. Court of Appeal that had ruled some evidence submitted during the original trial was inadmissible and therefore Schneider should be granted a new trial.

The remains of Kogawa's body were found in a suitcase in a house in Vancouver two weeks after she had been reported missing. Schneider was arrested in Vernon shortly afterwards.

According to a statement from the Supreme Court of Canada, the case focused on a phone call Schneider's brother overheard in which Schneider admitted to his wife he had killed Kogawa.

This piece of evidence had been used to convict Schneider of the killing, which is considered hearsay and is typically not allowed in court.

However, the original judge had allowed the evidence which led to Schneider's conviction.

An autopsy was not able to determine the cause of death and there was no DNA evidence linking Schneider to the death.

Schneider appealed and the B.C. Court of Appeal agreed he should have a new trial.

The Crown appealed and the Supreme Court of Canada ruled the exception to the hearsay rule was applicable.

"What the brother overheard was indeed relevant," the Supreme Court said. "(The) exception is applicable in this case because it allows witness testimony about a confession even if the witness was not a party to that conversation."

Schneider will now remain behind bars to finish the rest of his sentence of life in prison without parole eligibility for 14 years.

Prior to his murder conviction, Schneider had been found guilty of multiple assault charges, armed robbery and violence against women going back to 1987. He'd admitted to killing cats for pleasure as a youth and threatened to kill his parents.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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