Vernon man convicted in 2016 murder of Japanese exchange student wins new trial | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Vernon man convicted in 2016 murder of Japanese exchange student wins new trial

Natsumi Kogawa.
Image Credit: Facebook
February 02, 2021 - 1:00 PM

A Vernon man found guilty of murdering a Japanese exchange student in 2016 has won an appeal to have a new trial.

In a B.C. Court of Appeal Decision published Feb. 2, two of three sitting judges ruled that errors were made during William Victor Schneider's original trial and that these mistakes warranted a new trial.

In October 2018, Schneider was sentenced to life in prison without parole eligibility for 14 years, after a jury found him guilty of second-degree murder in connection with the death of 30-year-old Japanese exchange student, Natsumi Kogawa.

Schneider was arrested in Polson Park the day Kogawa’s body was found at an abandoned mansion in Vancouver in September 2016.

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

According to the Court of Appeal decision, Schneider’s lawyer argued that the original trial judge had made an error by allowing an overheard telephone conversation to be admitted as evidence.

“The overheard telephone conversation should not have been admitted into evidence,” the decision reads. “The utterances (from the phone call) were not logically relevant, as they lacked sufficient context for the jury to be able to determine their meaning.”

According to the decision, the phone call in question, involves Schneider’s brother overhearing Schneider on the phone to his wife in Japan saying; “Have you heard the news in relation to Natsumi’s death?" and “I did it” or “I killed her.”

Schneider’s lawyer argued it was impossible to understand the meaning of the conversation as Schneider’s brother could only understand one side of what was said and in snippets. The lawyer argued the original judge should not have allowed the call to have been entered as evidence as it had a prejudicial effect.

“There is nothing that would allow a jury to determine the meaning of the utterances in a way that is not dangerously speculative,” Justice Richard Goepal says in the decision. “It is not relevant and should not have been put before the jury. It was an error to admit the evidence.”

Justice Saunders agreed and ordered a new trial.

At the original trial, Schneider admitted to being with Kogawa when she died and to disposing of her body, but disputed that he killed her.

Kogawa was reported missing two weeks before her body was found “folded into a suitcase” hidden in some bushes in Vancouver. A jury convicted Schneider of second-degree murder and he pleaded guilty of interfering with Kogawa’s body after her death.

The Appeal Court decision does not set a date for Schneider’s new trial and the decision has no mention of whether Schneider will be released on bail pending the trial.

For more stories on William Victor Schneider go here.


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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